Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions created in Ontario Legislature

On the 24th of February 2009 the Ontario Legislative Assembly struck a new Standing Committee on Mental Health and Addictions to study Mental Health and Addictions in Ontario (including children and youth mental health and addictions). This committee will seek input from the public and others regarding such matters. Since many children in foster care are diagnosed with mental health issues and prescribed psychotropic drugs on a regular basis, this Standing Committee is something the child-welfare affected community should watch closely and make requests to speak to it for public record or to report to it in writing if public speaking is not an option.

Here is the text from the 24th of February Hansard (the minutes of the Legislature) where MPP Mr. Gerry Phillips, who is the Chair of the Liberal Cabinet and a Minister without a Portfolio introduced the creation of the committee, what it will study, and how the committee can report to the Legislature.

It also goes on to say that even if the legislature prorogues (closes) that the committee and it's work gets carried on to the next Session or Sessions depending of course on how long the work continues and how many Sessions there are before it's termination date.

You will also notice, right at the end, after Mr. Phillips reads all the details of the Committee and its duties, the Speaker of the House then starts to make a motion for a vote on whether the members of the Assembly wish to vote in favour of the creation of the committee, which would normally require him to read it all over again, word for word, so instead, since everyone has already just heard everything, someone in the house yells out (called an interjection) "DISPENSE" and he asks everyone (the Assembly) if he should dispense with reading it all out again, to which they all agree, and they all vote on the motion to create the Standing Committee on Mental Health and Additions and the motion is carried (everyone votes in favour of the creation of the committee)

The following link contains the text of the Hansard [Source]

The committee has since met to organize itself and a sub-committee of the Committee has since determined the following dates for expert and public consultation. (this is not totally set in stone yet)

(1) That the committee clerk prepare a draft budget for presentation to the committee on Wednesday, March 25, 2009;

(2) That the committee invite representatives from the following ministries to appear before the committee: aboriginal affairs, attorney general, children and youth services, citizenship and immigration, community and social services, community safety and correctional services, education, francophone affairs, health and long-term care: Minister's Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions, health promotion, Ontario Seniors' Secretariat;

(3) That the committee invite the following expert witnesses to appear before the committee: Mr. Michael Wilson, Mr. Michael Kirby, Mr. Glenn Thompson, Mr. Gordon Floyd, a representative of the Gerstein Centre, a representative of Parents for Children's Mental Health, a representative from the Durham Mental Health Services;

(4) That the committee schedule the ministry representatives and expert witnesses at its meetings on Wednesday, April 1, 8, 22 and 29, May 6 and 13 and that the meetings be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.;

(5) That ministry representatives and expert witnesses be given 30 minutes to make presentations (including questions from the committee);

The public consultations will be held on the following dates at the following locations.

(9) That the committee hold public hearings in Toronto, Wednesday, May 27, and Wednesday, June 3, 2009;

(10) That the committee hold public hearings the week of June 8, 2009, as follows: one day in Windsor, St. Thomas, Hamilton and Kingston;

(11) That the committee hold public hearings the week of June 15, 2009, as follows: one day in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay and Ottawa;

The Sub-committee also stated

(14) That interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation should contact the committee clerk by 12 noon on Monday, May 4, 2009;

(17) That the committee visit three First Nations communities at the end of August/beginning of September;

(18) That the committee visit a treatment centre in the United States (Buffalo or Philadelphia);

(19) That the deadline for written submissions be 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 17, 2009;

John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada

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