OHRC and Ontario Shores partnership to boost human rights for mental health disabilities

A picture showing the Ontario Shores Centre.
A picture showing the Ontario Shores Centre. Photo courtesy Ontario Shores Centre.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s increasing focus on human rights for people who are mentally disabled has resulted in a partnership with the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.

See: OHRC Report: Employers not doing enough to accommodate workers with disabilities

“The OHRC and Ontario Shores will be working together to develop a foundation for human rights organizational change,” Ruth Goba, Interim Chief Commissioner of the OHRC told Findlaw.ca.

The OHRC recently released a report entitled By the Numbers, which looked at statistical data for people dealing with mental and addiction disabilities in Ontario and made some startling findings.

The most startling statistic being that almost 70% of people dealing with mental disabilities in Ontario are disadvantaged or discriminated against at work.

Not only does that put the onus on employers to boost human rights practices within their organizations, but it also puts pressure on mental health centres to deliver better and more human rights-oriented services to their clients.

The new project, announced last week, was specifically designed to boost human rights within organizational practices and services of the centre.

Ontario Shores is looking at training their staff and members of the senior management team in enhancing human rights within their organization – both for and through their employees and for their patients.

Increasing human rights awareness within mental health centres can only benefit people suffering from mental health and addiction disabilities. If they can’t get the support they need at work – and most don’t - or they’re facing discrimination at work, a mental health centre like Ontario Shores can help support them and help them identify such discrimination.

It will involve the identification and elimination of practices and policies that are related to employment or provision of services that may not follow the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Goba explains that to develop human rights capacities and policies at the centre, “three working groups will be established to identify and eliminate any discrimination that may exist in Ontario Shore’s employment policies and practices and the provision of services…” adding that Ontario Shores “will challenge themselves to go beyond the obvious and enact innovative change in those three areas of focus.”

The three working groups Goba identifies are in the areas of:

  • Employment;
  • Education/Training;
  • Service delivery.

While the above is commendable, how can a partnership with the OHRC help Ontario Shores clients in actual practice?

“This work will support and enhance our recovery model of care which promotes inclusion and empowerment to patients and treatment options that are tailored to the individual needs of patients,” says Karim Mamdani, President and CEO of Ontario Shores.

He adds the partnership does so “by raising awareness and providing knowledge about the application of human rights considerations by all staff members.”

To achieve decisive action on helping their patients, Mamdani explains that OHRC staff has provided many hours of training to Ontario Shores personnel and that Ontario Shores has returned the favour.

The training was implemented, so that each of the organizations can understand the processes and challenges of implementing human rights in mental health centers, and in turn Ontario Shores can apply what they learned to patient care.

The project is set to run over a three year term.

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