Premier Ford’s derogatory term for mental illness offensive and unacceptable

“Any self-respecting members of [Ford’s] Cabinet should do the right thing and stand up to this kind of harmful rhetoric.” ― Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (31 July 2019) ― Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), says Doug Ford’s disparaging remarks about an escaped patient at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) show how out of step the Premier is with the times. The Premier referred to the patient as a “nutcase” and made disparaging remarks about “crazy people”

“This kind of radio rant plays right into Ford’s populist persona,” said Thomas. “But with half of Canadians affected by mental illness by the age of 40, his choice of words is extremely disrespectful to most people.”

“The premier’s language doesn’t help to end the stigma around mental illness, it only makes it worse. So much for leadership on the mental health file.”

Name-calling doesn’t help anyone and increases the stigma around mental illness

CAMH has reported that the patient was deemed low risk to public safety and was given a pass to enter the community.

“If the premier has issues with the system and wants it reviewed — that’s fine,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer of OPSEU. “But name-calling by the premier doesn’t help. We must remember that rehabilitation and reintegration into the community are the ultimate goals here.”

“This ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ nonsense is old-school thinking,” said Almeida, who is also a corrections officer. “It’s easy to point fingers and fall back on outdated ideology and harmful language when it serves a political purpose, but it’s definitely not constructive.”  

Focus should be on improving mental health care services

Thomas is calling on Michael Tibollo, the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, to denounce Ford’s latest comments publicly.

“Ford might be known for his offensive remarks,” said Thomas. “But any self-respecting members of his Cabinet should do the right thing and stand up to this kind of harmful rhetoric. As a front-line mental health care worker, I know how damaging the stigma can be.”

“Instead of pointing fingers, it’s time for meaningful action,” said Thomas. “It’s time for Ford to quit his rambling and focus on providing more resources for front-line mental health care services. He promised to be a champion for mental health, but it turns out he’s only a champion to his own cronies.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE