We currently have a bandaid on a broken back

Ontario’s Approach to Mental Health, Homelessness and Addictions Care:
“THIS IS NOT WORKING AND WE NEED IT TO CHANGE” – a grassroots movement from the people of Ontario

Petition is being presented in the ON Legislature on Thurs. Sept. 7th! Live on the Legislature website...


I just can’t take it anymore. The line in the playground mulch has been crossed. I say that as used needles were recently found near the bottom of a public playground slide in my home community of St. Thomas, Ontario. So this is my attempt to try to actually do something about this huge, widespread problem… but I need your collective voices to be heard.

I’m quite sure I’m not telling you anything new when I say that Ontario’s current methods of dealing with issues of homelessness, mental health and addictions are not working as well as they should or could.

I am not an “expert” in this field. But I don’t need to be. And neither do you. All we need are eyes and ears and some common sense to see and understand that the current system is badly broken. All we need is to drive or walk down the main streets and downtowns of many of Ontario’s towns and cities. The “experts” had their turn. They presented their findings and studies and opinions and turned them into our current system of community based care. They were wrong. It doesn’t work. People make mistakes. Good people – good governments – can simply admit it, and do what is necessary to correct them.

We can’t simply turn our heads and continue with our poor, unfortunate, and our mental health compromised and drug addicted citizens not getting the care and results they need. Residents of our cities and towns should not have to live in the constant fear resulting from having their yards, garages, vehicles, sheds and homes viewed as targets and opportunities to score something of value for an individual in need. Our local retail and business establishments should not be fighting a continuing battle against the many problems associated with the gathering of the homeless, destitute and addicts in retail cores. We need a system and strategy that provides for the success of EVERYONE. As well, our zoning laws and philosophies should reflect how they may contribute best to the potential success of businesses, and to the well-being of all residents. This must include giving municipalities and cities the ability to preclude services and agencies from areas which may cause conflict with and difficulties to other approved area businesses. This would not be “people zoning” in a socially unjust way, but zoning for the best potential success of all citizens.

Ontario’s current system is causing a great strain on police resources as they are forced to deal with mental health issues and large numbers of people, virtually and literally living on the street. The St. Thomas Police Service (STPS) and downtown retailers recently spoke with the media about their situation. (Brent Lale/CTV 2021) Patti Mugford talking about their family shoe store said, “Around the corner they sleep on the street, spit on our windows and empty our garbage. They’re loud and scare our customers.” STPS Communications Coordinator, Tanya Calvert, hopes that, “Somehow we can make a plan that people are being diverted after the first arrest. It would be a great situation if we had some kind of support system where that person is then diverted for whatever social disorder they may be suffering from… but reroute that person through a better support system.”

In 2010, Ontario’s Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions released their “Journey to Wellness” report. The AMHO (Addictions and Mental Health Ontario) was created to oversee the hundreds of agencies in Ontario providing care in a very piecemeal fashion after larger institutions were closed by the government. The AMHO has now released their own campaign called “Everything Is Not OK”, and is calling for changes to the current system. An on-line petition is associated with the campaign, however on-line petitions are not recognized or accepted as official petitions by the Government of Ontario. In the end, it’s possible that adding the AMHO to the top of the mix simply added yet another agency, another layer of bureaucracy, and a number of highly paid positions without garnering the success and results that were hoped for. (You will see below where and how you can sign a tangible, paper petition that will be presented to the Ontario Government asking for immediate and sweeping changes.) I also think it’s important that this comes from “the people of Ontario” – as in voters.

We need to take a huge step forward by reverting back, in a positive way, to a public institution centered system. One that has learned from its past mistakes – not simply abandoned the project and goals because of them. One that is proper, pertinent and compassion fueled. (I believe the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph provides a good example of what a public care institution(s) could be.) The plan needs to be comprehensive and include phases of supportive low-cost housing.

We must commit to breaking the cycle. We need to stop the enabling and encouraging of a lifestyle that should not be considered acceptable. To simply provide free needles, (with a goal of preventing the spread of HIV and hepatitis), and then leaving it up to the individual to find and support an illegal drug dealer, and hope the substance is not toxic to the point of being lethal, is unintelligible. And then to rely on the kindness of charities and volunteers to provide free meals and beds just so they can do it all over again the next day – if they’re alive – is incomprehensible. Our methods need to be directed toward goals of rehabilitation and curing – complete with proper care, opportunities and accountability.

Dear Ontario… it’s time to get this done. Please print out and fill in and sign the OFFICIAL PETITION and return to the address below. Once the petition is presented to the Legislative Assembly, the government must file a response within 24 sitting days of the presentation. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbours, or have the petition posted and available in your place of business. Organize an information booth and petition signing at your local market or event. Let’s let our provincial leaders know, loudly and clearly, that we expect and demand more… we need to be better than this. Much better.

Please save and print the blank petition form below. Return by September 28. Or email dkalichuk@rogers.com to request a blank PETITION form

Mail / Return signed petition forms: THANK YOU!

PETITION, 86 Gladstone Ave. St. Thomas, ON N5R 2M1

Questions: dkalichuk@rogers.com