Hon. Sylvia Jones
Ministry of the Solicitor General
18th Floor, George Drew Building
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Y6
Hon. Christine Elliott
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
5th Floor, College Park
777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
Dear Solicitor General Jones and Minister Elliott:
I hope this finds both of you well. I am writing to commend the government on its recent announcements regarding investments in mental health services for frontline workers including correctional officers, and Ontario Provincial Police personnel and their families. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) welcomes the government’s acknowledgment that many correctional staff and police officers face mental health issues.
The OHRC has consistently called for better mental health support for frontline workers. In 2014, we released a Policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions to provide guidance to employers and other duty-holders. In 2016, I wrote the Office of the Independent Police Review Director to express concern regarding the number of officers experiencing mental health issues and dying by suicide, and highlighting some of the barriers preventing officers from accessing adequate support. I urged the Director to include Human Rights Code considerations within the scope of his review examining the experiences and suicides of Ontario police officers with mental health disabilities. In 2017, the OHRC reached a legal settlement with the Toronto Police Service and Toronto Police Services Board to ensure that officers who die from mental health injuries sustained in the line of duty have equal opportunity to have their names included on the Toronto Police Service’sMemorial Wall.
It is imperative that the Ontario government provide necessary support and continue to work to end the stigma faced by people with mental health disabilities, especially in frontline law enforcement positions. Should you wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
cc: Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General