15 Years Of Mismanagement Have Made A Mess Of Ontario Mental Health Care - Canadanewsmedia
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15 Years Of Mismanagement Have Made A Mess Of Ontario Mental Health Care

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With an election less than a month away, it’s time to look at what the Ontario Liberals have failed to accomplish in mental health, and what the other parties are offering.

A timeline of Liberal inaction

When the Liberals first took power in 2003, they had inherited a comprehensive plan on reforming mental health care from the Tories called The Time is Now (historical link). That report was co-chaired by former Federal Conservative Minister Michael Wilson who has family history of mental illness. He is now head of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

While the details of that report are currently gone from government websites, it was based on individual districts in the province (the former District Health Groups) with one additional report for the entire province. Intelligent, effective people or governments who are serious about improvements will take good ideas from wherever they can be found. Hundreds of mental health professionals and family representatives developed that report.

Despite promises to review and implement the Time Is Now strategy, the Liberals ignored it.

When the 2014 election came along, it was clear that the election offered no hope for improvements in mental health.

Later, in 2008, an all-party Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions was established under Liberal Chair Kevin Flynn and Conservative Vice Chair Christine Elliott. That committee, over a period of 18 months, heard 230 presenters and received 300 submissions in 30 meetings throughout the province. They submitted their final report on Aug. 26, 2010.

That was an excellent report with many exemplary recommendations in it including the establishment of an umbrella organization to co-ordinate all services. There were a total of 23 recommendations made, including the need to review the implementation process at the end of the second year. Unfortunately, almost none of these improvements have ever been implemented.

Instead, incumbent Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s current election campaign has her arguing that that “there is no wrong door to accessing mental health care.” This borrows language from a July 2009 roundtable discussion on mental health called Every Door is the Right Door (historical link). The Liberals’ David Caplan was the health minister at the time.That report seems to have been largely ignored when Caplan resigned over the billion-dollar EHealth scandal.

So when the 2014 election came along, it was clear that the election offered no hope for improvements in mental health, largely because the Liberals refused to implement the recommendations agreed to by all parties in this 2010 all-party report, opting for a partisan approach instead.

The result: a mental-health emergency

Years of Liberal mismanagement on the mental health file have created a crisis.

In 2016, the mental health bed situation in Ontario was so bad that a young suicidal girl in Ottawa spent eight nightsin the ER and was then discharged with no treatment because there were no beds. In Guelph, Ont., the emergency room was brought to a standstill because there were so many psychiatric patients waiting for the too-few beds available for them.

Just this month, the Toronto Star did an investigative feature on the mental health overcrowding at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. What they found was that overcrowding is putting vulnerable patients at risk with patients sleeping in meeting rooms, and three people squeezed into a room designed for one. Premier Wynne’s response to this was that it just goes to prove that more people are coming forward to get help.

To sum up the disaster that Ontario faces in mental health treatment, Steve Paikin on “The Agenda” just had a number of experts discuss the state of the province’s mental health care today. Dr. Thomas Unger, the chief of psychiatry at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, called what we have presently “an irrational, fractured, overwhelmed (system). I’d call it an effing mess if I can say that on your show.”

A vote for better mental health

Despite the many failings of past elections to materialize change, we have a new opportunity before us.

The current Liberal platform on mental health care makes many promises, including an extra $2.1 billion in spending to rebuild the system. Given their track record over the past 15 years, however, it is hard to believe a word of it.

What are our other options?

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is offering $1.9 billion over the next decade on mental health and addiction support but have provided no details. Is that a total of $1.9 billion, or an additional $1.9 billion over and above what is being spent now? PC Candidate Doug Ford hasn’t told anyone yet, and election day is only a few weeks away.

The NDP, on the other hand, do provide a comprehensive plan for improving mental health care and plan to establish a new ministry for mental health and addictions.

More blogs from HuffPost Canada:

While I’m not in favour of new bureaucracies, this is probably a good idea given that they correctly point out that presently there are 11 ministries that have responsibility for various aspects of mental health and addictions. They also point out that there is a critical shortage of supported housing for those with mental illnesses that, I am sure, most families can attest to. They offer to bring 30,000 new supportive housing units on stream over the next number of years which will go a long way to helping solve homelessness.

Election platforms are simply promises that are not always kept. But given that after 15 years of Liberal rule we are still in the same mess (or worse), maybe it is time to let the NDP see if they can start to repair what we have.

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Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur to make court appearance in Toronto

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TORONTO – A man accused of killing men associated with Toronto’s gay village appeared briefly in court today.

Bruce McArthur was remanded in custody until June 22 for what is expected to be another short appearance.


READ MORE:
Toronto police to start searching more properties linked to Bruce McArthur this week

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, McArthur said little during the short appearance via video link.

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He looked downcast while his lawyer and Crown set the new date.


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Case of alleged Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur put over to May 23

The 66-year-old self-employed landscaper was arrested in January and charged with the murders of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, who went missing from Toronto’s gay village in 2017.

Later that month, he was charged with the first-degree murder of Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, and Dean Lisowick. In February, he was also charged in the death of Skandaraj Navaratnam.


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Toronto police end search of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur’s apartment

In April police charged Mcarthur in the death of Abdulbasir Faizi, who was reported missing in 2010, and days later charged McArthur in the death of Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, who came to Canada from Sri Lanka and was not reported missing.

Police have so far recovered the remains of seven men from large planters at a Toronto home where McArthur worked and stored his equipment.

Police say cadaver dogs — including some from York Region police — are sniffing out about 100 properties both inside and outside Toronto, all with ties to McArthur.

VIDEO: New details about latest victim of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur






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Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur set to appear in court Wednesday

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Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur is expected to make a court appearance by video on Wednesday morning.

The 66-year-old landscaper is facing eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearances of a number of men, most of whom had ties to Toronto’s gay village.

McArthur was arrested and charged in January with first-degree murder in the deaths of Selim Esen, and Andrew Kinsman, both of whom went missing in 2017.

Last week, police finished an intensive search of McArthur’s Thorncliffe apartment, where they seized 1,800 exhibits and took more than 18,000 photographs. Police have found the dismembered remains of at least seven people in large planters at the home of one of McArthur’s clients.

Toronto police said earlier this month that the investigation has entered the next phase, with the use of cadaver dogs to search properties linked to McArthur.

McArthur last appeared in court on April 25.

with files from Star staff and The Canadian Press

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Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur to make Toronto court appearance

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Bruce McArthur, the alleged serial killer charged with eight counts of first-degree murder, is set to make a court appearance by video link in Toronto on Wednesday morning.

Toronto police have said they don't plan to lay any new charges.

McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed landscaper, has been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearances of a number of men, many of whom were connected to Toronto's Gay Village.

He's accused of killing the following men: Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, and Abdulbasir Faizi, 44, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58.

McArthur is accused of killing these eight men. Top row, from left to right, Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, and Abdulbasir Faizi, 44. Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58. (CBC/Toronto Police Service)

Police just finished a months-long, inch-by-inch search of McArthur's apartment, which they said netted more than 1,800 pieces of evidence.

Police still searching

Meanwhile, cadaver dogs are searching dozens of properties across the city where McArthur worked.

Police also plan to do more digging at a home on Mallory Crescent, near Toronto's Don Valley, where the dismembered remains of several men were found hidden in large garden planters.

Investigators said they have identified the remains of seven men, but not Kayhan's.

Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga, who is leading the investigation, has said police don't know how long the probe will continue.

McArthur, who was arrested on Jan. 18, remains in custody at the Toronto South Detention Centre in Etobicoke, in suburban Toronto.

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