I will not stay in my lane (whatever that is) when it comes to advocating for the saving of lives. Please stop trying to get me to. You’re wasting your time. Work WITH me instead. 

I’m what you call an apple cart upsetter; but I do so with respect and good intentions. But no matter how respectful and well intentioned I am, many of the people who pull these carts don’t like what I represent. Upsetting the apple cart often looks like me challenging agencies to do better, sooner, and to not make excuses. I have no political agenda when I do so. My intent is to save lives. Plain and simple! And if that means that I need to challenge well known, large agencies to stop working in siloed, ego-driven apple carts, I will; and I have. 

Not everyone minds that I upset apple carts all over the place. Many individuals (most often the hands-on workers at these agencies) who have a passion for helping others and do so on a daily basis, see that my intentions are good. And that their ability to do their jobs to their fullest is often delayed by committees and boards that meet on an infrequent basis and rarely consult with them directly about their needs. I have experienced these massive gaps between the workers and board members first hand when I recently met with some executives of a very well known healthcare agency, and when I relayed specific asks from a department that was in need of some additional funding, (funding that I was prepared to request from the local MPP’s), I was told that the workers have no say in what is required and that I should leave the asks of the MPP’s to the Vice President of said healthcare agency because they were the one who was always at Queen’s Park. News flash: if I (and many others) were to have waited for Vice Presidents of agencies to ask at Queen’s Park for what first responders needed from WSIB, we may not have Bill 163, and an entirely new department at WSIB dedicated to mental wellness. I have every right to make requests of my MPP’s, just like all of the citizen’s of this province do.

Like it or not, I will request declarations of emergencies, public inquiries, create peer support groups, ask elected officials for meetings, share my likes and dislikes about certain agencies, share my lived experiences and get upset when I have to bury yet another friend because of deficiencies in our healthcare system. 

When I upset the apple cart, I don’t do so just to be a nuisance, (trust me, I don’t have time for that), I often have a plan that needs to at least be considered seriously. I shine the light on siloed agencies so that they start to work in collaboration with one another, thus decreasing overlap, and hopefully freeing up funds that can be used in areas of need. Our mental health and addiction crisis in this province needs all hands on deck. We need to work together to find solutions to gaps in the system. We need to stop creating yet another board or committee to research what Ontarian’s need. We already know these answers. What we need is better care, now.

This Friday, I am meeting with MPP and Attorney General Doug Downey, MPP Andrea Khanjin, and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Michael Tibollo, and am proposing a system-based transformation of our current provincial mental health and addiction treatment that will include:

1. Comprehensive, accessible and seamless addiction treatment pathways;
2. Low barrier residential and out-patient treatment; and
3. Improved physician addiction treatment and education. 

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I will not stay in my lane (whatever that is) when it comes to advocating for the saving of lives. Please stop trying to get me to. You’re wasting your time. Work WITH me instead.