[ONTARIO] Position on Education Reform: Provide Your Voice

The Government of Ontario is currently hosting public consultations on a number of key educational components, including the content of the Health and Physical Education curriculum, approaches to health-related topics in the classroom, parent engagement, and physical activity policy. As part of the provincial consultation process educators, parents, students, and stakeholders are invited to provide feedback until December 15, 2018.

Ophea and OASPHE have responded through the Government of Ontario’s consultation process and invite those seeking support in articulating their perspective to reference messaging from Ophea’s response (this response only includes the health-related questions).

Ophea strongly encourages Ontarians to participate in the single largest consultation on the single largest health promotion intervention this province has ever seen.

Now is the time to make your voice heard #forthestudents #fortheparents.

Ontario’s Young People deserve an Advocate's Office

By Alyssa Frampton and Parnian Pardis of the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health

On Thursday, November 15th, the Ford Ontario Government chose to axe the Ontario Children and Youth Advocate’s Office. Young people always deserve protection of their rights and their safety, regardless of who holds the government power, and this decision by the Ontario Government has put that protection at risk. This choice comes as a part of Premier Ford’s economic statement and attempt to reduce Ontario’s deficits. What this really is, is an indication that reduced spending is prioritized above the welfare of young people and their rights.

In 1978, Ontario became the first province in Canada to have a child advocacy office. There are now offices across the country. The Young Canadians Roundtable on Health has had the privilege of working with many of these offices in some regard – learning from them about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These offices are guided by the UNCRC and provide services to young people, especially those who are part of the child welfare or youth justice systems.

Why Ontario Needs a Child and Youth Advocate

While the Advocate’s office has decided to continue to provide services until further notice, we still need to rise up and vocalize the importance of funding this office. In Canada’s largest province, with some of the highest suicide rates and heightened numbers of children in care and justice systems, advocates who give young people a chance and an office that amplifies child and youth voices is necessary.

Children and youth who are in care or justice systems are especially vulnerable to having their rights abused or infringed on. The Advocate’s office helps young people who are often in the most vulnerable positions, out of view from the general public. They administer checks on the provision of government care, and advocate for increased access to rights and justice.

Essentially, the Advocate’s office acts as Ontario’s government watchdog for children. A lot of effort went into making this office independent of the government so that it could work without conflicts of interest to ensure the best possible advocacy for young people in Ontario. By axing the office, the ministry becomes solely responsible for child and youth advocacy. Despite Minister MacLeod (Minister of Children, Community and Social Services/Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues) declaring she will be the advocate, young people will no longer receive the same attention. Minister MacLeod cannot possibly answer the phone and hold the hands of the young people who need help the way that the advocacy office has. Consequently, the voice of young people will no doubt become underrepresented, while the actions of the government will go without an official check which the Advocate’s office provides.

What Can You Do

The Advocate’s office has been a long standing friend and support of the YCRH, working closely with us in looking at the rights of youth in Ontario with regards to health. We also have invited Irwin Elman to speak at panels, and to partner with us. We appreciate and recognize the work of this office and the importance of it continuing to not just uphold the rights of children and youth but in its work to include youth voice in all that they do. If you agree with the values of the advocacy office, please get involved and ensure your voice is heard!

Contact your MPP and share why you think this decision needs to be reversed: 
Kanata-Carleton: 613-599-3000
Ottawa Centre: 613-722-6414
Ottawa South: 613-736-9573
Ottawa West-Nepean: 613-721-8075
Orleans: 613-834-8679
Ottawa-Vanier: 613-744-4484
Nepean (Minister MacLeod’s Riding): 613-823-2116 / 416-325-5225

Thank you to Dhilal Alhaboob for this list. You can find all MPPs here: https://www.ola.org/en/members/current

This post originally appeared on YouthHealthRights.ca.

4th Annual BC Pediatric Diabetes Day: February 1-2

Feb 1 -2 (Friday-Saturday) | Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue | Vancouver BC

Target audience: pediatricians, specialists caring for children and youth with diabetes, diabetes educators, social workers, pharmacists, and dietitians.


  • New larger venue, interesting plenary sessions and lots of small interactive workshops

  • Two breakout sessions designed to address the Nursing Supportive Services educational needs

  • Focus on addressing new treatment approaches, new technology and continuing to develop a standardized pediatric diabetes care across the province

For more information and to register, visit UBC Continuing Professional Development.

Children and youth have a right to an advocate – they also desperately need one

Kids Help Phone Releases Results of 24/7 Texting Service Pilot Launch And Expands Nationally

Support is Just a Text Away for All Youth Across Canada

Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone is being rolled out nationally in both English and French making access to mental health support just a text away for all youth in Canada.

Research has uncovered that 42 per cent of young people would rather write than speak about their problem and 71 per cent of young people prefer a non-verbal form of communication such as texting. Since February 2018, when Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone was service-tested in Manitoba and select provinces, more than 13,000 texting conversations have taken place.

"Kids Help Phone has been speaking with young people every day, in every community across Canada since 1989, adapting and innovating to provide them with the mental health support solutions that suit them best," says Katherine Hay, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone. "With our pilot of Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, we set out to meet youth where they need us most, and the response has shown us that this is a vital support service for young people in Canada.

Following the pilot's promising results and through a partnership with Canada Health Infoway, along with the support from generous donors, the free, 24/7 texting service is accessible immediately to youth anywhere in Canada by textingTALK to 686868 to reach an English-speaking Crisis Responder and TEXTO to 686868 to reach a French-speaking Crisis Responder on any text/SMS enabled cell phone.

"As we move forward with the national rollout, we are again boldly changing the landscape in virtual care knowing theCanada of tomorrow is depending on how we deal with the mental health needs our youth are facing today," adds Hay.  "Over the coming months, we will focus on sustaining Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone with additional funding and resources."

"Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone will give young people across Canada access to a much-needed and first of its kind texting support service," says Michael Green, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway. "We are proud to partner with Kids Help Phone to usher in this new dawn in mental health support service delivery."

To meet the growing demand for talking through text, Kids Help Phone introduced the texting support option through a service partnership with U.S. based helpline and technology pioneer, Crisis Text Line.  The service is provided by trained, volunteer Crisis Responders who engage in empathetic listening to help bring a texter from a hot moment to a cool calm.  Paid, professional Texting Supervisors monitor the texting platform and are ready to step in should a situation escalate.

Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone requires no data plan, internet connection or app. For many young people, (especially in rural and remote communities) lack of privacy, unreliable internet bandwidth, and limited data plans make it difficult for them to communicate by phone, thus the need for reliable, accessible communication. 

Pilot results showed that the most common issues that young people addressed through their texting conversations with a volunteer Crisis Responder were related to anxiety, relationships and feelings of isolation. Twenty-four per cent of texters connected with a volunteer Crisis Responder because of suicidal thoughts. At times, crisis intervention was a factor in the texting interaction requiring a professional Supervisor to step in to conduct between one and two active rescues daily; this is seen as one to two lives being saved every day.

Some other key findings derived from surveys completed by respondents after their texting support sessions include:

  • Reduction in Stress Levels:  86 per cent of participants reported a meaningful reduction in stress after finishing a texting conversation with a Crisis Responder.

  • Improved Mood:  87 per cent of respondents reported feeling at least one of the following categories after having communication with a Crisis Responder:  less alone, less distressed, less upset, more hopeful, more confident and more in-control.

  • Increased Confidence: 52 per cent of respondents said that they felt confident that they could now cope with their situations after a texting conversation.

  • Service Satisfaction: 83 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied with the service they received, and 81 per cent said they were likely to recommend the texting service to a friend.

  • Early Intervention: 78 per cent of respondents said had they not engaged in a texting support session they would have done one of the following: managed the issue on their own, not spoken to anyone; ignored the issue and hoped it got better or went away. Additionally, 7 per cent of users said they would have gone to the emergency room.

With 70 per cent of mental health issues being known to begin in childhood and adolescence, early intervention can lessen or prevent a worsening of the issue. Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone is seen as an essential mental health resource for young people providing a place where small issues can be addressed before they become larger ones.

Kids Help Phone's phone and Live Chat counselling services remain core, vital services, where anonymous and confidential professional counseling is provided.

A group of leadership donors to Kids Help Phone helped to underwrite the majority of the costs to develop the new service including: Bell Let's Talk, BMO Financial Group, Boston Pizza Foundation Future Prospects, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, RBC Foundation, The Co-operators Group Limited, TELUS, Shail Silver and three anonymous donors.

With the national rollout of Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone, additional bilingual Texting Supervisors and volunteer Crisis Responders are especially needed.  Those interested in volunteering, donating to support Kids Help Phone or wanting more information on Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone are encouraged to visit kidshelpphone.ca/text.