On November 25th, 2013, crown attorneys, judges, police officers and correctional service providers connected with health and social service providers, individuals with lived experience, and community mental health and addictions agencies at the 4th biennial Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) Conference in Toronto.
The theme of the conference was the changing world of human services and justice throughout the age span. The conference began with a lively and at times humorous talk by Mr. Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada, who discussed ‘Health’ in Federal Corrections and the key challenges that exist. Sapers said that there is now a well defined mental health strategy for federal inmates, which recommends that more mental health training is provided for institution staff.
The Provincial HSJCC also presented their work on Police-Emergency Department Protocols featuring Dorina Simeonov, CMHA Ontario’s justice lead and policy advisor to the Provincial HSJCC, alongside police sergeants Phil Lillie, Frank Miscione, Kenneth Jessop and Julie Cyr.
Each sergeant shared promising results from protocols implemented in Hamilton, Waterloo and Russell county respectively, which have successfully reduced police time lost waiting in the emergency room with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The group also discussed the stigma experienced by the individual as well as transportation issues in northern and rural communities. The panel was moderated by Heather Callender and resulted in an active discussion on diverting individuals with mental health issues away from the emergency department.
On the second day of the conference, Dr. Wayne Hammond gave an inspiring and motivational talk on mindful resilience. Hammond discussed the evidence supporting the need for a strengths based perspective in care. “The start for change is when people are valued. Every person is amazing; they just don’t know it yet,” he said.
The documentary Not Criminally Responsible, which explores the themes of violence, mental illness, and the rights of victims, was also screened at the conference followed by a panel discussion on Bill C54 and the related issues. The conference closed with a revealing talk by 11-time international medalist and 47-time Canadian National Champion, Meaghan Buisson, who shared her personal lived experience of mental health issues.
There were also many interesting concurrent sessions including:
- A panel on police record checks held by the Police Records Check Coalition
- A video and presentation on the Service Collaborative initiative being led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- CMHA Toronto’s Mark Henick screening of his TEDxToronto talk and a discussion on the language and stigma around suicide
For the first time, highlights from the HSJCC conference were shared live as they occurred, using the hashtag #hsjcc2013. More than 57,000 twitter users followed along and participated from across Canada. View the complete collection of tweets from the conference online.
Overall, the conference was a great success with many leaving inspired, energized and informed about the great work in human services and justice happening across Ontario and beyond. Stay tuned for presentation slides and post-conference information by visiting the Provincial HSJCC website.