Toronto, Nov. 3: Say 'NO' to CTO's!*

Graeme Bacque (
Sun, 24 Oct 1999 17:37:48 -0400

* CTO's are Community Treatment Orders - a legal mechanism used to ensure 
that discharged psychiatric inmates maintain compliance with prescribed 
treatments, attend medical appointments, etc., with the threat of forced 
re-admission to a psychiatric facility being wielded as an enforcement measure.

Such provisions already exist in the mental health legislation in 40 U.S. 
states (NY being the most recent, with their law scheduled for proclamation 
on November 4, 1999), the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and 
Saskatchewan, and in New Zealand and some jurisdictions in Australia. The 
United Kingdom is also considering similar legislation.

These laws are being further enforced in some places by so-called 
'assertive community treatment' teams which visit people in their homes up 
to several times daily; to actually deliver drugs to their 'patients' and 
ensure that they have been swallowed. Such teams are already in place in 
the Province of Ontario.

Mike Harris's re-election 'blueprint' included promises to substantially 
overhaul the Mental Health Act and related laws in order to (as he put it) 
'remove the legal barriers to persons receiving the care they need'. (Never 
mind that such 'care' is frequently unwanted, and generally involves 
violent intrusions into the most fundamental aspects of a person's being - 
namely their inherent right to control their own body, mind and spirit). 
This intention was affirmed in the Throne Speech delivered when the Ontario 
Legislature resumed sitting on October 21.

Forcing powerful and potentially dangerous drugs upon anyone has to be 
considered assault under any circumstances (and shrinks are notorious for 
failing to explain the possible hazards associated with their interventions 
to their 'patients', in direct violation of standard medical propocol). 
CTO's extend this legal right by psychiatrists to involuntarily 'treat' 
people to those actually living outside of institutions, effectively 
turning peoples' homes into locked wards.

Legislation of this kind is invariably the end result of distorted and 
sensationalized media reports of those uncommon acts of violence committed 
by persons with a psychiatric history; politicians seeking a 'quick fix' 
for social issues such as massive homelessness (which they themselves bear 
substantial responsibility for helping create in the first place), as well 
as energetic lobbying from family member groups such as the Schizophrenia 
Society of Canada (or the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in the 
United States),'mental health' professional associations and pharmaceutical 
companies looking to drum up business. Psychiatric Survivors have been 
systematically excluded from the dialogue.

What makes this threat especially frightening in Ontario is how its timing 
coincides with several other legislative initiatives or policy 
recommendations from the province as well as from municipalities - namely, 
the Tory government's plan to implement legislation making it illegal for 
someone to attempt to survive through panhandling or squeegeeing; and to 
require all residents of the province to be issued electronic 'smart' ID 
cards which would basically allow access to any aspect of someone's 
personal life (possibly including medical/psychiatric histories).

Some members of Toronto City Council have also been floating a proposal 
whereby it would be made illegal to sleep on the street in this city, with 
a further plan to deploy teams of 'social workers' to actually round up 
homeless people by force and store them under giant plastic domes. 
According to Toronto Council member Tom Jakobek (who originally brought 
this plan forward) this scheme is to include some form of forced treatment 
regimen. The pending CTO legislation from the province would provide the 
legal teeth to any such plan by the city, as would laws banning 
panhandling. Between the proposed Provincial and City initiatives, this 
basically amounts to a master plan for widespread social cleansing.

On Wednesday, November 3 at 12 noon Psychiatric Survivors and supporters 
will be gathering outside the Ontario Legislature. Everyone is encouraged 
to join with us on that day as we fight for our most basic rights as 
citizens, and for the kind of genuinely caring and supportive communities 
that would illustrate above all else just how unnecessary this kind of 
legislated violence is.

Please join with us!

For more information or to offer endorsements contact:

No Force! Coalition
Rm. 2059, 1001 Queen St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
V: (416) 535-8501 x2018
F: (416) 325-9749
E-mail: <>