Victoria’s 40-person Mayor’s Task Force on mental illness, addictions and homelessness didn’t include anyone identifying as a mental health system user, a substance user, or homeless. Though the Task Force conducted focus groups with street people and service users, none were around when the final action plan was being formed. That’s too bad because, if they’d been present, just about any street person would’ve warned that the plan, for all its good intentions, was flirting with disaster.
Instead, only the respectful principle of involving these people in decision-making sprouted up in the Task Force reports like totem poles on the legislature lawn.
“Street-involved people can and should play an important role in the development and implementation of programs…”.
“Participation of those with mental illness in reforming and improving the mental health system… must include meaningful involvement, democratic decision making…”
But street people weren’t actually in the planning meetings to protest, when the Task Force paternalistically chose to implement “Assertive Community Treatment” (ACT), a notorious program of social control recently instigated throughout Ontario.