A decision by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to delay divestment of the Psychiatric Patient Advocacy Office (PPAO) to the Canadian Mental Health Association pending consultations with key stakeholders is an overdue but welcomed step in the right direction.
“I applaud Deb Mathews for announcing that her ministry will put divestment on hold to give time for a full review of its controversial decision and to allow all stakeholders, including patients and their advocates, an opportunity to make their views known,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents advocates working on behalf of those with mental health issues.
“However, we will oppose any divestment that smacks of a conflict-of-interest,” said Thomas. “To do otherwise would be a grave disservice to thousands of people who rely on the integrity and independence of the PPAO.”
In a memo last week to PPAO employees, the ministry said it would put off any divestment until early 2012 to give more time for consultations with those affected by the proposed change. Under the original plan divestment would have taken place effective Sept. 1, 2011 when PPAO officers would have found themselves supervised by the CMHA (Ontario) which delivers local mental health services.
Under this arrangement, PPAO officers would have found themselves in a flagrant conflict-of-interest, said Thomas, who added he believes the PPAO should be reportable directly to the provincial Legislature through the Ombudsman’s office or by way of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
For more information:
416-443-8888 ext 8777