The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has released its annual report for 2010–2011. Titled “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” this report not only reviews the past fiscal year, it also celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the OHRC.
Of particular interest to those involved in mental health is the section of the report titled “Adding Voices to the Mental Health Conversation.” Here the report describes the consultations it held on mental illness, discrimination and their related impacts on the day-to-day lives of people with lived experience as well as their family, friends and associates.
To obtain this information, the OHRC conducted an online survey in English, French, American Sign Language and Langue des signes québécois (LSQ). More than 1,000 people affected by mental illness and discrimination responded; they included people with mental illness and/or addictions, their families, friends, employers, service and housing providers.
In addition, focus groups were held with patients in psychiatric facilities and with mental health service organizations. Public and private sessions were also held for persons with lived experience, employers, service and housing providers in North Bay, Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto. Written submissions were also invited from individuals and other organizations.
In the section “Taking Action,” the OHRC outlines the steps it has taken, which include:
- A new area on their website focused on human rights and mental health in Ontario
- Submissions to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on their 10-year mental health strategy
- Litigated cases at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
- Collaboration with community groups and police on the issue of police record checks
Future steps include:
- A report summarizing the learnings from the consultations
- A new policy explaining human rights protection for people with mental health disabilities, as well as support for employers, housing and service providers
- Building partnerships with the Mental Health Commission of Canada
To read the full OHRC Annual Report 2010–2011, go to www.ohrc.on.ca.