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Best Wishes for the New Year
December 2007     

In This Issue

  • Changing Social Policy in Ontario, OSPN update
  • Education Committee Values Statement
  • Volunteer Management Committee
    Terms of Reference
  • Visioning Day  February 1st 2008








The Power of Persistance 

Who was William Wilberforce? 

William Wilberforce was a British member of parliament during the 18th century.  At the age of 28 he became convinced that slavery was wrong, and he began a campaign to abolish slavery.  Year after year, Wilberforce continued to present bills to parliament for the abolition of slavery.  Finally, after 46 years of persistence, the Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833.  Three days after the bill passed, Wilberforce died. 




Changing Social Policy in Ontario,
OSPN update

Bringing social and political change can be a long, frustrating process.

That's what Arnold Devlin, chairman of the Ontario Suicide Prevention Network (OSPN), can tell you.  For thirteen years, the OSPN has been lobbying the Ontario government for a provincial suicide prevention plan and the budget to back it up. 

Ontario has produced many specialists in the field of suicide prevention (several on the board and advisory committee of the OSPN), and many of these professionals have traveled around the world, helping other countries in Europe and Asia form national strategies of suicide prevention.  Yet, Canada has yet to form its own national strategy, and Ontario is one of few provinces that does not have a provincial plan for suicide prevention.

"Ontario has the highest provincial rate of completed suicides," says Devlin.  "Yet the province isn't spending a dime."  The jurisdiction for suicide prevention in the province lies with the Ministry of Health Awareness.  The OSPN has met with its working committee, and in spite of the fact that they've done some good research on other countries' plans, Devlin doesn't sense they are getting closer to an action plan.                                                                                             

Part of the problem is that there is the misconception that talking publicly about suicide will increase the rate of suicides.  Devlin doesn't agree.  "It's a myth," he says bluntly.  "People need to know that it's ok to talk about suicide, and that there is help available."  And he also points to the Canadian mindset.  "It's part of the Canadian survivor mentality - to grin and bear it." 

These factors are not helping people cope with difficult situations.  It distresses Devlin that a survey on methods for coping with stress showed that for people under thirty, suicide is in the top ten.  "It's an option for them!"  he says incredulously.  "And there's no active campaign, no one saying you shouldn't do it."

In spite of the lack of a provincial or national strategy, suicide prevention has not been abandoned in Ontario.  It's a local based, grassroots movement, formed by concerned citizens.  "Police are often in the front lines of suicide prevention," says Devlin, "because they are the ones who get called in the case of a suicide."  Others who often join in the fight are educators, who deal with the grief of youth suicide, the highest segment of the population affected by suicide.  Mental health care providers, health care professionals, and survivors of suicide lend their help.  Distress Centres provide much needed support, but Devlin points out that with a provincial plan and the funding to back it up, much more could be accomplished.   

For now, the OSPN focuses on continuing to apply pressure on government and on encouraging those who provide support for those affected by suicide.  Both individuals and groups can become members of the agency, and the OSPN provides both educational materials and yearly conferences.  As well, the OSPN continues to meet with government officials, speeding toward the day when suicide prevention will become part of both the government's agenda and budget.   


DCO Education Committee -
Values Statement 

The Education Committee is composed of representatives from the member centres of Distress Centres Ontario.  In the performance of its responsibilities we will be guided by the following values ....

Inclusiveness - all offerings will be accessible by all member centres regardless of size, location or service capability

Flexibility - all offerings will be designed to fit in with or be used in conjunction with existing education and training efforts at a centre's discretion

Enhancement - of all current learning and volunteer management efforts in all locations with a view to helping everyone do their jobs more effectively

Capacity building - all offerings will be dedicated to building the capacity of a Distress Centres' volunteers and staff, and when possible the broader community and partners

Timeliness - all offerings will strive to provide the most recent and up-to-date information possible in a method that utilizes existing and emergent learning methods and tools

Cost effectiveness - of all offerings for the member centres and DCO while looking for supportive partners, existing offerings, and new funding streams

DCO Volunteer Management Committee - 
Terms of Reference 

MANDATE:     To provide leadership regarding volunteer management issues in the Distress Centre/Line environment.

PURPOSE:      The Volunteer Management Committee is a standing committee of DCO whose purpose is to provide recommendations, support and prompt innovation with the management of volunteers to the membership of DCO.


  1. Review and identify key issues in volunteer management
  2. Discuss and recommend best practices
  3. Provide suggestions and support to the membership
  4. Vision regarding the state of volunteerism within the DC movement
  5. Source and disseminate information and education
  6. Identify and move forward with province wide initiatives
  7. Liaise with other DCO working groups and committees

DCO Visioning Day
Friday, February 1st, 2008
Doubletree Hotel Resort , Niagara Falls, ON

All member centres of Distress Centres Ontario are invited to attend the Futures and Visioning Day planned for February 1, 2000.

The meeting is the follow up to the sentiments expressed by the DCO membership at the October Networking Day.  Everyone present agreed that it was important to look at the future and consider what the DC sector might look like in 3 or 5 or 10 years.

Through-out the month of January the membership will be surveyed for its initial perspectives on a variety of topics.  These responses will guide the moderated discussions and visioning that we will participate in.


Members of the Futures and Visioning Group will be contacting all centres during the first part of the month to answer and questions you may have to to offer you a personal invitation.  

Invitations and Registration information will be sent to the Executive Director or Program Manager of each member organization.  These sessions are for senior staff, leadership personnel and the Board Members of your centres.

Next Issue

MOHLTC - Aging At Home Strategy update

CASP Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention - an update

Distress / Crisis Line Services throughout the world - how volunteers deliver services



Upcoming Events


Education Forum 2008 

1st weekend in November, 2008 in Ottawa, ON
(details to follow)

Commitee and Working Group Meetings -

Volunteer Management
Jan 8, 2008

Visioning / Futures Working Group
Jan 10, 2008

Education Committee
Jan 10, 2008



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DCO Distress Centres Ontario
700 Lawrence Ave W.
Suite 475 A
Toronto, Ontario M6A 3B4


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