By Marvin Ross
For the past few weeks, we’ve been posting about Andrew Bryenton from PEI whose been wandering the streets of Toronto while his mother desperately tries to get him into hospital and sent back to PEI where a hospital bed is waiting. That’s where we left it and people are wondering. Is he safe in PEI or is he still living on the streets of Toronto.
Sadly, he is still one of the countless numbers of homeless barely existing on the streets of Canada’s largest city not unlike the countless other homeless in every city in this wealthy first world country. The only consolation for his mother is that she knows roughly where he is thanks to reports she gets from strangers who have the humanity to let her know and who try to give him food, drink, clothing and money. Sometimes he takes it and sometimes he politely turns it down.
Andrew has a serious mental illness, was hospitalized in PEI and then upon discharge was prescribed medication which he refused to take. He has no insight into his illness which is not unusual with many with serious mental illnesses – a condition known as anosognosia.
Three times his mother managed to get a Form 2 from three different justices of the peace who looked at her evidence and determined he needed to be taken to hospital for an assessment as he posed a danger to himself. The first two hospitals held him for 72 hours and then discharged him as being fine. The third one, the much lauded Centre for Addiction and Mental Health which brags they are the largest hospital of its kind in Canada when fund raising, kept him for about 3 hours and discharged him at 2 in the morning with no money, ragged clothes and nowhere to live.
There have been times when there were no sightings for 24 hours so Andrew’s mom filed a missing person report and the police did spot him. They did talk to him and told him his family was concerned but he replied that he was happy living on the street. The police can do nothing more than that because he is an adult. They are, however, keeping an eye on him. While I know his mom is not happy with them, they are not the villains. The true villains are our society and politicians who seemingly do not think those with mental illness wandering our streets are important enough to warrant proper and sufficient psychiatric hospital beds and programs to help.
Shame on them for this level of disdain. The average Torontonians have shown true compassion. One night Andrew was found sleeping in front of an apartment building and as it was cool, a woman went down and covered him with a blanket. As the temperature dropped, she went back down and covered him with a second blanket. Premier Doug Ford offered his regrets and said he would tell his minister of health. No one has heard a peep from her.
How many thousands of Andrew’s are there in Canada and their families have no idea where they are or if they are even alive.