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Human Rights and Accessibility

People with lived experience of mental health issues or addictions (PWLE) may experience discrimination or accessibility barriers in many areas of life, including health services, employment, housing, education, and transportation. In Ontario, two major legislative frameworks protect the rights of and promote accessibility for people with disabilities, including mental health-related disabilities and/or addictions: the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).  Additional programs such as the Ontario Disability Support Program provide access to income and employment supports.

Although both pieces of legislation include mental health issues and addictions under their definitions of disability, there can be challenges associated with policy development and implementation.  Mental health- or addiction-related accessibility and accommodation often require different considerations than other forms of disability due to the impacts of the social determinants of health, stigma and discrimination.

How CMHA Ontario is addressing this issue

CMHA Ontario works to ensure that mental health and addictions are considered in the development and implementation of public policies and programs related to human rights and accessibility.  This includes participation in public policy development processes, advocacy for systemic human rights or accessibility issues, and development of capacity building supports for various stakeholders.

CMHA Ontario participated in Minds that Matter, the Ontario Human Rights Commission province-wide consultation on the human rights issues experienced by people with mental health disabilities or addictions.

For more information, read Minds that Matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and addictions on the Ontario Human Rights Commission website, as well as CMHA Ontario’s response.

CMHA Ontario also contributed in the 2012 review of the provincial human rights system, chaired by Andrew Pinto, by convening a roundtable of people with lived experience of mental health issues and the human rights system.

CMHA Ontario participated in the development of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and its standards by advising government through the legislative and standards development process.  CMHA Ontario also participated in the Charles Beer review of the AODA in 2010.

Enabling Minds Project

The Enabling Minds project aims to reduce barriers for people with mental health-related disabilities to participate in physical activity programs offered by recreation and fitness organization by developing tools and training resources to support organizations in the recreation and physical activity sector to meet the requirements of AODA customer service and information and communication standards.

CMHA Ontario was appointed to the first provincial Elections Ontario Accessibility Advisory Committee, chaired by Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa.  In this role, CMHA Ontario represented mental health and addictions-related concerns and advised Elections Ontario on how to address voting barriers for people with mental health-related disabilities.

CMHA Ontario also provides advice on how to increase mental health-related accessibility of programs and policies for public sector stakeholders including Elections Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the provincial Family Responsibility Office, Canadian Transportation Agency and Presto Card.

In 2013, CMHA Ontario will launch a project to develop a guide on mental health-related accessibility highlighting promising practices.

Mental Health Works

Mental Health Works is a national program of the CMHA that builds capacity within workplaces to increase the accessibility for people with mental health disabilities and address mental health issues in general.

Mental Health Employment Supports Network

CMHA Ontario convenes the Mental Health Employment Supports Network, a network of service providers in Ontario that deliver employment supports services to people with a mental illness.

To learn more about supported employment for people with mental health disabilities, read CMHA Ontario’s report on the issue.

Learn more about CMHA Ontario’s work on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) on the Reducing Poverty page.