Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) launched their mental health strategy consultation with a recent event at the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) in Toronto. Members from LAO, PARC, local legal clinics including the HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario and Parkdale Community Legal Services, as well as CMHA Ontario, were all in attendance to celebrate the kickoff of the strategy consultation and discuss strengthening partnerships and services in the community.
The event began with speeches by Ryan Fritsch, the lead policy counsel on the mental health strategy at LAO, and John McCamus, chairman of the LAO. With the development of the strategy, LAO aims to expand access to mental health legal aid services, as well as provide greater support to lawyers and other mental health legal aid providers.
Speeches were followed by the weekly PARC jam session which is held each Wednesday where members of the community play music, improve their skills and have fun while building confidence and personal accomplishment. The event allowed attendees to mix and mingle with individuals in the community, including those with lived experience of mental health and justice issues.
The event wrapped up with a guided tour of the facility and of Edmond Place with Executive Director Victor Willis. Willis spoke about the supportive housing at PARC and the unique services provided there including meditation workshops and community cooking.
For more information and to provide public comment on LAO’s mental health strategy, visit the LAO website.