‘NO’ TO CTO’s!*
Over a hundred Psychiatric Survivors and other human rights advocates braved an icy west wind outside Ontario’s legislature November 3 to protest the Harris government’s stated intention to vastly increase the power and scope of the Mental Health Act.
*CTOs (Community Treatment Orders, also known as outpatient committal or ‘leash laws’) are a legal mechanism that can compel discharged psychiatric inmates to comply with prescribed treatments and medical appointments while living in the community, with the constant threat of re-incarceration in a psychiatric facility being wielded as a means of enforcement.
Forty U.S. states currently have such laws on the books, as do the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and British Colombia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and parts of Australia. The United Kingdom is currently considering such legislation.
Speaker after speaker (Including supporters from the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, New Democrat MPPs Marilyn Churley and Peter Kormos, and many members of the Survivor community) made the links between the proposed CTO bill and the systematic process of social cleansing the Province and municipalities are currently engaging in.
Legislation which would essentially outlaw panhandling or squeegeeing was introduced on Tuesday this week, and bills are in the works that will compel welfare recipients suspected of substance use to submit to testing and compulsory ‘treatment’ (seems this government has a real set of double standards when it comes to drugs!) and see every person resident in Ontario being issued with electronic ‘smart’ ID cards that would allow authorities access to most of the intimate details of our lives with a single swipe through a reader (this info could well include medical/psychiatric records).
The planned changes to the Mental Health Act represent just one more aspect of this effort to drive unwanted (Read: poor) people from the public view, and will likely also serve as the legal glue that will bind many of these other proposals together into a terrifyingly cohesive whole. It is a product of systematic demonizing of targeted groups (in this instance psychiatrically labeled persons) in the mainstream media, along with lobbying efforts from powerful interests like the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists and pharmaceutical corporate giants Eli Lilly.
Similar protests have occurred recently outside the State Legislature in Albany, New York (the most recent jurisdiction to pass a CTO bill) and at the Treatment Advocacy Center headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland (TAC is an offshoot of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, established for the specific purpose of lobbying for changes to mental health laws in order to facilitate forced ‘treatment’).
Most of this opposition in the U.S. has been organized under the umbrella of Support Coalition International (based in Eugene,Oregon). <www.MindFreedom.org>
On February 10th last year OCAP descended on Parliament Hill with Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and 5 busloads of homeless and poor people from Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal. We demanded a meeting with Jean Chretien to force the Federal Government to build housing and restore income support programs. Instead we were met with riot cops.
While the Prime Minister hid in embarrassment, we fought the cops outside, standing together with strength and dignity.We showed them the kind of resistance they won’t soon forget.
On November 16 OCAP and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte are heading back to Ottawa to fight for housing and show the government that we don’t accept empty gestures. We refuse to live and die in Poverty. We don’t need any more studies of distant promises. We demand Action Now! We demand:
1) Federal spending for housing be increased by 1% ($2 billion dollars)
2) Restore all Federal cuts to income support programs
3) Make it impossible for Ontario’s provincial government to deduct the National Child Tax Benefit from welfare cheques.
This is a call to everyone to come together with OCAP to Ottawa on November 16 and 17. The only way to take what is ours is to fight for it!
Register with OCAP now for your spot on the buses.
NOVEMBER 16th 12:00 NOON Meet at the Open Door Centre; All
Saints Church (315 Dundas St. E.)
Supper and lodging in Mohawk Territory
NOVEMBER 17th Action on Parliament Hill
Back in Toronto at night (Likely 9-10 PM)
(URGENT — We need your help with the following supplies!)
Blankets, sleeping bags coats, sweaters, mitts and gloves, hats.
Resources in Toronto
People Against Coercive Treatment
P: 760-2795 F: 368-5984
* * *
Queen Street Patient’s Council
Room 2059, 1001 Queen St. W.
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1H4
P: 535-8501x2018 F: 325-9749
No Force! Coalition
Tuesday, November 23
Anita Szigeti lawyer and Chair, Mental Health Legal Committee
Erick Fabris Psychiatric Survivor, Queen St. Patient’s Council, No Force! Coalition
Don Weitz Psychiatric Survivor, People Against Coercive Treatment, No Force! Coalition
For more info: