“The truth is that Canada - the ninth richest country in the world - is so wealthy that it manages to mask the reality of poverty, social exclusion, discrimination, the erosion of employment quality, its adverse mental health outcomes, and youth suicides....Adding social sciences evidence we now have accumulated indisputable evidence that social injustice is killing people on a grand scale."
- Former Minister of Health and Welfare: Monique Begin 2010
Have you seen the television ad? Canadians fuss and smother kindness on an isolated dog left on its own in an urban metropolis. The same Canadians ignore a poor, old street person in desperate need of assistance.
How about the Australian and British prisoners executed by the Indonesian government after they had already served 11 years in prison for drug smuggling? While fellow G8 countries were repulsed by the barbaric actions, a portion of Canadian citizens via CBC’s comment section, rejoiced at their “deserved punishments”.
The repugnant reactions are more reflective of who we are as Canadians than an aberration. A byproduct of an elitist disregard for how a society should be judged on a scale of quality. Fairness, equality, dignity and respect.
A sense of humanity.
As Canadian elites look into the mirror and see Goddess Athena on the arm of father Zeus, it is wise counsel for us to remember, it is a dreadful Canadian illusion.
A simple step away from the glare...and all we are left with, of course in all our multicultural distinctiveness, is Brutus and his passive-aggressive minions. Kevin O’Leary has got it right when he states that the Canadian system is a modern version of Rome.
In 13 days time on March 15, 2017, I will begin my third and final hunger strike in three months...in protest to the extreme injustice and abuse I have faced over the past 8 years living as a Canadian citizen trying to live as a normal person with a mental disability.
While I am apprehensive of the impending pain of the Total Starvation approach, I counter-intuitively do not fear the prospect of dying, which at this late juncture looks inevitable.
It is an ironic positive twist from suffering a substance addiction in a Canadian society devoid of an ounce of integrity, nous, compassion, and guts to implementing anything close to the right approach when dealing with those citizens suffering tremendous indignity of their circumstances.
Without thorough truth seeking, which can only be achieved through the integrity of an untainted process - not a Canadian kangaroo court system, then there is no hope for sustained improvement of helping those in desperate need.
I am living breathing proof of a shameful system of colluded, willful incompetence facilitated through political weakness and judicial impropriety.
My vote to the Liberal government and lobbying for my local liberal MP, was a complete waste of time as I thought it would make a difference in my own circumstance and by association thousands of other Canadians.
Over the past 10 days I have communicated with the Minister of Health office in Ottawa.
After providing compelling information and having clear evidence of my appalling circumstances, the best the Minister's Office could do was to encourage me to seek out social assistance and social housing and that my opinions on social policy change would be useful along with thousands of others somewhere down the road.
A scripted, dreadful response...as if I were inquiring for a credit card and speaking to someone in India.
Our government, including Minister Phillpott's office, need a good shake and stern slap across the head.
Nothing about solving the core problems with my circumstance: Employment, purpose in life, my passion and the disgraceful social injustice and treatment I have faced from York University, the Canadian Judicial System and the Canadian Soccer Industry.
And of course, no response to my request for a police investigation into the treatment I have received...which collectively are criminal acts.
Avoiding these core problems while purporting to solve the periphery issues equates to taking a wheelbarrow of resources and tipping them down the drain.
It is a fundamental flaw with Canada’s reckless approach to those suffering substance addictions and poor mental health in general, best summed up by, again, Monique Begin in 2010, “What good does it do to treat people’s illnesses to then send them back to the conditions that made them sick?”
I wrote the following in my Leave to Appeal application to the Supreme Court of Canada back in January 2016:
“The economic, social, and political consequences of the following mental health facts to Canadian society are breathtaking and should be a concern to the honourable Supreme Court and to all Canadians: Mental illness and addiction is a leading cause of disability in Canada; People with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than the general population; Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy; The disease burden of mental illness and addiction in Ontario is 1.5 times higher than all cancers put together and more than 7 times that of all infectious diseases. This includes years lived with less than full function and years lost to early death; Individuals with a mental illness are much less likely to be employed. Unemployment rates are as high as 70% to 90% for people with the most severe mental illnesses and addictions; The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year which includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life; Number of people with mental illness and addictions either turned down for a job for which they were qualified or, if employed, dismissed or forced to resign once it was known that they had a mental illness: 1 in 3 – 1 in 2; Percentage of Canadian organizations that have no structured process for supervisors to support employees’ return to work after any illness or disability: 64%".
Consider also, the paraphrased comments from social scientist professor, Denis Rafael - ironically from York University, who states, “Income is the most important social determinant of health as it shapes overall living conditions, effects psychological functioning, and influences positive health related behaviours, such as quality of diet, extent of physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use. Employment provides income, a sense of identity, and helps to structure day to day life while unemployment frequently leads to material and social deprivation, psychological stress, and the adoption of health threatening coping behaviours. Lack of employment is associated with physical and mental health problems that include depression, anxiety, addiction and regrettably, increased suicide rates."
In case it is not clear, any person suffering from substance addiction requires employment as the priority - not as an afterthought or to be neglected or taken away as punishment.
It needs to prioritized like it is in the United Arab Emirates where persons in rehabilitation will not be permitted to leave facilities until they are in secured employment.
A clear pointed finger in the eye of Canadian weakness, arrogance, greed, deceit and inadequacy.
Perhaps the appeal to Kevin O’Leary will not be on a humanistic level, but the economics of reducing a $51 billion annual deficit from untreated poor mental health, including substance addictions.
If that is the case then he will discover that to reduce this amount he will have a to find a way of encouraging the 90% of diagnostic substance users who remain untreated, to change course and open up to receive the help and support they desperately need.
A tall order if one were to use the Paul James litmus test on what happens once you do.
At 53 years of age, on my hands and knees with the count at 8, I remain unequivocally ashamed to be living as a Canadian citizen and of ever representing the Canadian national soccer team not because of the association itself or the many good soccer people and supporters throughout the country but because of who we are as Canadians, represented by our PITIFUL allocation of justice, fairness and humanity.