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Why Canadian Companies Can’t Ignore the Cost of Mental Illness

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

With public figures such as Clara Hughes leading the way to greater awareness and increased discussion around mental health, it’s still a largely overlooked issue in many workplaces.

Each year one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem, and in some areas, such as Ontario, this number is as high as one in four. More worrying, these figures reflect only people who have visited a doctor for a diagnosis. The actual number is likely much higher.

Female PS Workers’s Disability Claims Outnumber Mmen’s two-to-one

Kathryn May
Published on: January 19, 2015

Shannon Bittman is vice president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.

Women in the public service go on disability leave at almost twice the rate of men, a problem some experts say should be addressed as part of the governments new disability management scheme.

The federal disability insurance plan, managed by Sun Life Financial, is the biggest in Canada. A Sun Life report obtained by the Citizen shows women have ended up on long-term disability at rates vastly disproportionate to their numbers in the public service for more than a decade, especially for mental health conditions.

Canadians’ Mental-Health Info Routinely Shared With FBI, U.S. Customs

CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2014 8:49 AM ET

Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian found attempted suicide calls uploaded to international database

Ontario’s privacy commissioner has discovered that the mental-health information of some Canadians is accessible to the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Ann Cavoukian said Monday that some Ontario police services routinely uploaded attempted suicide calls to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), to which U.S. border guards and the FBI have access.

Cavoukian began investigating how U.S. law enforcement had access to such personal information after last fall’s news that some Canadian travellers with a history of mental-health issues had been denied entry into the U.S.

Ensuring Equal Justice for All

John McCamus, National Post | 11/12/13 | Last Updated: 10/12/13 1:30 PM ET

Too many Canadians with mental health challenges are falling through the cracks in our court system..

Those of us who have ever gone through a divorce, struggled with employment issues, or had problems with a landlord, know full well the stress that any of these matters can bring.

Now imagine having to deal with a mental illness on top of everything else.

For a lot of Ontarians with mental health issues, legal problems don’t exist in isolation. Too often there are multiple legal needs that cut across the entire justice system.

Federal Prison Staff Mishandling Mentally Ill Women Inmates: Ombudsman

Howard Sapers, federal corrections ombudsman, makes 16 recommendations on how to change the way the system treats troubled women offenders.

Correctional Service watchdog Howard Sapers reports ongoing concerns about the capacity of Correctional Service of Canada to manage mental illness.
By: Tonda MacCharles Ottawa Bureau reporter, Published on Mon Sep 30 2013

OTTAWA—Six years after the death of Ashley Smith, an investigation by the federal prisons watchdog says guards and managers are still taking a dangerously wrong approach to troubled women offenders.

The damning report is the result of an investigation by the office of Howard Sapers, the federal corrections ombudsman.

Canada’s Elderly at High Risk of Suicide, Can’t Afford Mental Health Care: Experts

Published Monday, July 29, 2013 1:01PM CST

TORONTO — Studies show that Canada’s elderly are at a much higher risk of suicide than adolescents, and there is growing concern among mental health experts that psychological care may be out of reach for most seniors.

Dr. Marnin Heisel, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Western Ontario, says lack of public awareness of the issue is a key problem that affects not only the elderly, but their families and the public in general.

“One of the challenges that people face is thinking ‘I’m unique in this, I’m alone, there’s something wrong with me, no one can understand it,’ and then they tend to back away from family, other supports, including professional supports,” Heisel said in an interview.

Mentally Ill are Unlikely to Re-offend; So Why is Canada Toughening Rules for Them, Researcher Asks

Douglas Quan
Edmonton Journal, Mar. 1, 2013

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s Bill C-54 flies in the face of the Conservative government’s promise to fight the stigma associated with mental illness, mental health organizations say.

A McGill University researcher says a bill introduced by the Harper government toughening rules for violent offenders deemed “not criminally responsible” due to mental illness left her a bit baffled: Didn’t federal officials bother to look at the data she had collected for them?

Anne Crocker, a professor of psychiatry, told Postmedia News that the data she turned over to the Justice Department’s research division in November showed that this group of offenders is among the least likely to reoffend.

Agony Behind Bars

January 18, 2013

Some inmates with mental health problems “manifest symptoms of their illness through disruptive behaviour, aggression, violence, self-mutilation, suicidal ideation, withdrawal, refusal or inability to follow prison orders or rules,” according to Correctional Investigator of Canada Howard Sapers.

Most Canadians are familiar with the shocking video footage that was presented in a coroner’s court in 2012 as part of an inquest into the Oct. 19, 2007 self-strangulation of teenager Ashley Smith inside a solitary confinement cell at the nation’s only federal women’s prison, the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario.

Shocking Ashley Smith Video Revealed; Inquest Sees Footage of Inmate Shackled, Injected Against Her Will

diana zlomislic 

“How can it get worse?”
Ashley Smith asks the question in a childlike moan.

Aboard a small government plane, 33,000 feet in the air somewhere between Saskatoon and Montreal, the teen inmate can’t fathom a fate worse than what has just befallen her in a period of six minutes.

Her forearms are shackled to the seat’s armrests, a hood of black netting and canvas is pulled over her head of long, wavy brown hair and tied around her neck. The plane’s co-pilot, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has just bound her wrists
together with duct tape, restricting her as though in a straitjacket. And she is sitting in her own feces.

Impact of Mental Illness Greater Than Cancer, Infectious Diseases: Report

Heather Loney, Global News : Wednesday, October 10, 2012

TORONTO – A groundbreaking new report sheds light on the immense burden of mental illnesses and addictions, conditions which are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed or ignored.

The overall impact of mental illnesses and addictions is greater than cancer and all infectious diseases, according to a report from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Public Health Ontario (PHO).

Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report states decision-makers and members of the health care system can no longer afford to bear the burden of mental illness.