Public policy failure…

  Aug. 18, 2014

 Globe and Mail – David Gratzer
Mental illness: A depressing failure of public policy  

Toronto Psychiatrist David Gratzer has some good news around mental health.  First, many types of illness are treatable and successfully at that.  Second, the treatments are continually improving in effectiveness. But the bad news is in the number of people who ask for help: only one of three who could benefit from treatment in fact get it.  The doctor offers three strategies for those falling through the cracks.  Related article:  Seattle Times – Jerry Large Let’s fix mental-care hot mess

 Canadian Mental Health Association (ON)
New UK Report highlights CMHA’s work on Mental Health and Criminal Justice

Paula Reid, a Churchill Fellow of the Winston Churchill Trust in the UK visited with CAMH Ontario to research the intersection of mental health and criminal justice.  The report offers recommendations and highlights the role of Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee at CAMH Ontario.    Full Churchill report (34 page PDF):  Mental Health and Criminal Justice: What can we learn from liaison and diversion in the USA and Canada?

 Canadian Mental Health Association and Evidence Exchange Network (
Bill C-14: The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act  

On July 11, 2014, the amendments to the Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) Act took effect in Canada.  Prior to proclamation the bill was known as C-54 but now C-14.  The webinar linked is part of the effort by mental health practioners to understand the implications of the changes to the Act.  Featured speakers are Dr. Susan Adams and Erin Lainevool.   The eeNet session itself  (A 1 ½ hour video):

 Blacklock’s Reporter – Tom Korski
Scientists Biased, Talk Too Much: Government Memo 

Dr. John Smol, a Queen’s University professor,  and one of the authors of a new report on the impact of the development of the oil sands projects in Alberta, is puzzled by the confidential memo from staff to the minister of Natural Resources Canada.  “A panel of scientists at Queen’s and Environment Canada wrote the study that revealed hazardous emissions from oil sands development had resulted in detectable levels of contamination in nearby lakes.”  Smol thinks the taxpayer who paid for the study has a right to know the content and conclusions.

 Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung
Ottawa urged to remove citizenship by birth on Canadian soil  

In a report to the federal government marked ‘secret’ immigration officials are recommending that children born on Canadian soil but of non-citizen parents be excluded from Canadian citizenship.  Incidents involve fewer than 500 cases per year or 0.14% of births and, say critics, is too costly to warrant the expense for the even fewer who would be deemed seeking “birth tourism.”

 National Newswatch – Bruce Campbell
Ten areas of regulatory failure that contributed, directly or indirectly, to the Lac-Mégantic disaster  

Given the current concern raised over the secrecy of the inspection reports for the MMA railway involved in the Lac Megantic disaster, the title of Campbell’s report seems appropriate:  “Wilful Blindness.”  Branding the incident as the worse rail disaster in a century, Campbell, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative,  offers ten failures in regulation and wants to know why there has not been a move to an external and fully independent  public inquiry.

 Ottawa Citizen – Toni Pickard
Thinking BIG about welfare, inequality 

Income inequality is a hot topic and becoming more of an election issue in both the US and Canada.  Here’s a novel solution:  a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) that gives, no strings attached, whatever amount needed to allow a person who falls below the floor sufficient to reach the floor.  Poverty blights the life of four million Canadians and all the individual piecemeal approaches to date have left a mess in both approach and impact on people.  What’s more, says Pickard, a retired law professor from Queen’s, BIG would be cheaper than what we have now.

 Canadian Law Times – Yamri Taddese
Canada’s prison paradox  

Toronto defense counsel Bill Trudell explains how the various players in the criminal justice system contribute to the paradox of less crime and more prisoners, especially in the processes and personnel involved in the bail courts.  Trudell thinks that many are ‘risk averse’ and look to pass the responsibility and the blame back to the court system, resulting in unnecessary denial of bail.

 Yahoo-on-line (AU) – Emma Griffiths
Asylum seeker children held in residential detention to be released into community: Federal Government 

Australia has decided that approximately 1500 children currently in immigration detention will be released into the community.  The total number is children in detention is not clear but the decision will not apply to all.  Likewise the timing is not clear but seems to suggest the end of the year as a target date for the bridging program which will give the parents a temporary visa while the refugee status is assessed.   Related article:  Radio Australia – Children held in immigration detention to be released into community: Federal Government