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Ford’s mental health remarks offensive and out of step with the times: OPSEU

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says Doug Ford’s disparaging remarks about an escaped patient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health show how out of step the premier is with the times.

“This kind of radio rant plays right into Ford’s populist persona,” said Thomas. “But with half of Canadians affected by mental illness by the age of 40, his choice of words is extremely disrespectful to most people.

“The premier’s language doesn’t help to end the stigma around mental health illness, it only makes it worse. So much for leadership on the mental health file.”

CAMH has reported that the patient was deemed low risk to public safety and was given a pass to enter the community.

“If the premier has issues with the system and wants it reviewed – that’s fine,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But name-calling by the premier doesn’t help. We must remember that rehabilitation and reintegration into the community is the ultimate goal here.

“This ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ nonsense is old school thinking,” said Almeida, who is also a Corrections Officer. “It’s easy to point fingers and fall back on outdated ideology and harmful language when it serves a political purpose, but it’s definitely not constructive.”   

President Thomas is calling on Michael Tibollo, the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to denounce Ford’s latest comments publicly.

“Ford might be known for his offensive remarks,” said Thomas. “But any self-respecting members of his Cabinet should do the right thing and stand up to this kind of harmful rhetoric. As a frontline mental health care worker, I know how damaging the stigma can be.

“Instead of pointing fingers, it’s time for meaningful action,” said Thomas. “It’s time for Ford to quit his rambling and focus on providing more resources for frontline mental health care services. He promised to be a champion for mental health, but it turns out he’s only a champion to his own cronies.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931