By Marvin Ross

In December, I wrote a blog entitled Ontario’s Shameful Barbaric Practices for some with Schizophrenia. The blog dealt with the death of a young man called Soleiman Faqiri. He had a promising future ahead of him when he enrolled in an engineering program at the University of Waterloo in 2005. He was bright, personable and a good athlete but, like some at that age, he developed schizophrenia. And while many with this illness can do reasonably well with proper medical care, it was not to be for Soleiman.

On December 15, 2016, he died under brutal circumstances in the detention centre in Lindsey, Ontario. This December, seven long years later, another coroner’s jury ruled that his death was a homicide but the police may or may not re-open the investigation. Two police forces had previously investigated the circumstances of his death and came to no conclusion.

Over the years, there have been many coroner’s jury recommendations and few are ever implemented. In this case, the jury made 57 recommendations all aimed at Ontario. The key focus of the inquest was to answer why Mr Faqiri was never sent to hospital and the jury asked that the Ontario government “develop and issue a public statement by February 10 recognizing that jails are not appropriate environments for those experiencing significant mental health issues.”

They failed to do that!

After the verdict came down, the Toronto Star asked the Ministry of the Solicitor General what they planned to do. The Star was told that  they would “carefully review the inquest recommendations,” look for ways to “inform policies and procedures” and respond to the Office of the Chief Coroner.

When they missed their deadline, the Star asked again and the ministry response was to utter the exact same platitude.

What would it have taken for Boss Ford, our premier who loves to make announcements at such venues as gas stations, beer stores and convenience stores, to stand in front of a prison or a psychiatric hospital and say people with mental illnesses do not need to be held in prison. They need to be in hospital to get proper medical care?

He was happy to go to a gas station to tell people they no longer had to pay an annual car license fee and then they no longer had to renew their car licences. He went to a beer store to tell us that he was reducing the beer tax so we could save $200 million a year and then he was adding $100 million a year to health care.

My conclusion is that he cares more about saving money and time for car owners and beer drinkers but not for people incarcerated in jails because they are sick.

In our next blog, Dr Dawson will explain why the care and treatment for mental illness became so bad and what governments must do. Meanwhile, the Ontario Psychiatric Association is lobbying for improvements in the Ontario Mental Health Act. You can read about their plans here and help them by telling the government your concerns.

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