Equality means equality for everyone.
1. In 2016, Bill 170, An Act to proclaim the week immediately preceding the third Sunday in June as Men’s Health Awareness Week, was tabled in the Ontario legislature to recognize the importance of addressing men’s health issues.
Would your government re-introduce this legislation or support its passage if it were reintroduced in the House?
Answer: I would not reintroduce this bill, for three reasons. First, with the crises of climate change, democratic decline, economic and energy shifts, and so much more, and with little chance of forming a government, as a Green MPP I would want to reserve my private members’ bills for really critical reforms. Second, the Green Party recognizes the critical importance of men’s health issues along with everyone else’s in our approach to healthcare, which emphasizes primary and preventative care in order to promote a healthier population more generally, and this approach will hopefully make health promotion a staple of our society. And third, frankly, I’m personally overwhelmed with the number of special days or weeks or months for recognition of specific groups or issues, and I’m not sure that they make a significant difference. I rarely know about or notice them, and when I do find out that it’s a special day and I haven’t worn the right coloured shirt or tweeted a statement in support of the cause, I actually get a negative impression of the issue and the groups that are working to address it; I’m concerned that these become fads and/or peer pressure things rather than a sustainable model of progress in solving the issue. I believe that legislation should be reserved for programs and policies that are substantial rather than symbolic, and I hope it is recognized that by saying so I do not imply that this issue is not substantial, but rather that the special recognition of it for one week of the year is symbolic.
2. In Canada, the suicide rate for males is at least three times higher than the rate for females.
What action would your government take to address the high rate of male suicide?
Answer: The Green Party’s fully-costed platform includes investing $4.1 Billion in mental health services over 4 years as a first step in making mental health an integrated part of OHIP+. We would also create a new umbrella organization called Mental Health & Addictions Ontario to consolidate and prioritize mental health programs and services, and I’m positive that the higher rate of suicide among men would be considered in that process!
3. All victims of domestic violence deserve support. According to Statistics Canada’s 2014 General Social Survey on Family violence,
“equal proportions of men and women reported being victims of spousal violence during the preceding 5 years (4%, respectively). This translated into about 342,000 women and 418,000 men across the provinces.”
There are over 177 shelters and residential facilities in Ontario for abused women. There are 0 shelters dedicated to male victims of domestic violence and their families.
Would your government provide funding to support opening Ontario’s first shelter for abused fathers and children?
Answer: Yes, our platform includes investing $200 million more than what was committed in the 2018 Liberal government’s budget for shelters, social, co-op and supportive housing. While exact programs are not identified, I don’t see why some of that should not be earmarked to meet this need!
4. Boys are dropping out of school and enrolling in post-secondary institutions at rates significantly lower than their female counterparts. Children succeed when they have mentors or role models with whom they can readily identify. In publicly funded preschool and primary school the percentage of male teachers is about 16%.
What action, if any, would your government take to recruit men into the teaching profession, in particular in preschool and elementary school?
Answer: Our Green Vision includes addressing social inequality, including gender based inequalities. Changing gendered expectations in society is not as easy as a quota system or raising incentives, but we support programs that address toxic masculinity and support men in caring positions, either as parents or in caring professions. I have no examples of specific programs, but as a father of young children this issue is very much on my radar on a daily basis!
5. According to research from the Fatherhood Project, based out of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital, father involvement is critical to advancing positive health and psychosocial outcomes in children. Children with a strong father-child relationship display higher levels of self-control, are more likely to succeed in school and are less likely to engage in substance abuse.
When a family breaks-up, a child counts on his or her father to continue to provide financial support but also and equally important, to maintain a strong, loving and active relationship.
In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office recognizes the first need by enforcing child support payments by non-custodial parents. At this time, however, there is no agency in Ontario that enforces child access orders generated by family courts, which is critical to ensure that non-custodial parents are able to maximize involvement with their children.
Would you support expanding the mandate of the Family Responsibility Office or another provincial agency to enforce child access orders?
Answer: In order to be just, a law must be enforceable. I absolutely support ensuring that child access orders are enforced.
6. The #MeToo movement has alerted us to a problem with coercive and harassing behaviour in the workplace. The focus now is to develop appropriate measures to effectively address this problem without generating unintended negative consequences. In particular, we must be careful to preserve the underlying moral principles of our legal system, which have been refined over centuries.
What role, if any, does the Government of Ontario have in taking steps to improve workplace culture in a manner that also protects the rights of accused individuals?
Answer: The law already insists that the accused must be proven guilty, but public opinion often moves much faster, and can affect the employability of the accused. There are a few things the government can do, the first of which is to address the reasons why so few victims come forward (i.e., most accusations do not result in a conviction, and many accusers are traumatized and harassed for coming forward): as long as victims do not get justice from the court, the court of public opinion will feel a stronger need to enact justice on a social basis. We need to improve confidence in our systems to prevent the kind of social vigilantism that sometimes occurs. Second, once we have a greater confidence in the ability of the courts and HR departments to handle sexual assault and harassment charges, we can legislate protections for workers who are negatively impacted by the stigma of having been accused, so that someone who is wrongfully accused will not be fired or have the accusation officially affect their prospects in other employment. But such legislation will depend on our ability to have confidence in the results of a court or tribunal proceedings, otherwise it will only enable suspected abusers to get preferential treatment rather than protecting the rights of falsely accused people. (My answer on this is not taken from the Green Party’s Vision or Platform, and represents my opinion only.)
For more information on the Green Party of Ontario and our platform, go to www.gpo.ca!
Green Party Candidate
Northumberland – Peterborough South