Towards Upper Echelons: First CAFE Meeting with an MPP

After our Karen Straughan event at Ryerson University the first week of February, we were approached by MMP Jack MacLaren’s office to have a meeting to discuss the current situation of men’s issues in Ontario. Mr. MacLearen sits on the committee for Developmentally Disabled Services and Mental Illness and shared his interest in championing CAFE in political forums.

After we introduced CAFE, its mandate as well as its three primary areas of concern, namely family law, men’s health and boy’s education, various CAFE Advisory Fellows commented on their areas of expertise. Brian Jenkins shared the current adversities faced by men in family law as well as what needs to be targeted in order to facilitate more equitable treatment of men in society. Eleanor Levine discussed the struggles men face in mental health as well as the lack of clinical facilities available for men. Ruben Avila highlighted the educational disparities of boys and young men in Ontario’s educational systems: Early Childhood Development, Elementary School, Secondary School, as well as in the graduate and post-graduate levels. Robert Samery closed off by providing examples of the crown refusing to prosecute females, even in cases of mandatory prosecution. He also discussed the CAFE Public Policy Committee and its various projects.

Mr. MacLaren shared our perspective that fathers were being treated as “second class citizens” in Canada. He also assured us that inquires will be made in the efforts to change the unequitable treatment of men in legal services such as for Legal Aid Ontario to also support male defendants, as well as making the FRO (Family Responsibility Office) subject to Ombudsman review. Mr. MacLaren will be looking into changing hospital policy to also screen men for signs of physical and sexual abuse when brought to the ER in the same manner that women are. Mr. MacLaren indicated the he would also support Canadian Centre for Men and Families funding which could provide outlets to help men deal with stress as well as prevent violence. We will be liaising with Mr. MacLaren’s office to meet with Ontario Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader Christine Elliot to discuss further initiatives in the near future.

There is no doubt that CAFE is not only drawing public attention, but also the proactive interest of government officials in order to bring about positive transformational change for men, boys and their families.