Thank you very much.
I am Louise Bradley, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I want to thank you for the opportunity to listen today to such a wide diversity of stakeholders, including yourselves.
The commission has been asked by this government to develop Canada's first mental health strategy, which we developed and released last year.
We were also asked to play a leading role in tackling stigma associated with mental illness, and for which we are targeting youth, health care professionals, the media, and the workplace. We were also given funding to undertake the largest study in North America looking at the issue of homelessness and the mentally ill. Last, we were asked to improve the capacity for sharing evidence, knowledge, and information about mental health in Canada.
It is in this capacity that we are here today as a trusted adviser to government and stakeholders. Our role is to ensure that factual and pertinent information is provided to you as you deliberate on this very serious and important issue. There's the fact, for instance, that the vast majority of people with mental health problems and illnesses are not dangerous and violent. Indeed, they are more likely to be victims themselves.
While unintended, there is a concern that these discussions may reverse some of the progress we've made thus far.
The mental health strategy also states that assessment and treatment services are the way by which to prevent tragedies, like the one we've heard about here today, from ever happening, thereby ensuring public safety. This is an important component of discussions regarding mental illness and public safety and it cannot be ignored.
The strategy also states that services are needed for all, and in the context of why we're here today, the mental health needs of victims and families are equally important. We want to ensure that the right kind and the right amount of support and services will be provided to victims.
When it comes to specific issues like this one before you, we facilitate access to leading experts with the goal of giving Canadians the best evidence on which to make these important policy decisions. As such, the commission cannot take a position on the legislation per se, but we do rely on a very large network of experts and stakeholders to guide our three main areas of work.
The focal point of this advice is currently through our advisory council. Dr. Patrick Baillie, who will take up the remaining portion of our time allocation, led one of our expert groups of individuals with expertise in mental health and the law. This included family members, persons living with mental health problems, professionals, and researchers.
Dr. Baillie will present some facts and evidence based on his unique expertise as both a psychologist and a lawyer in Calgary. He contributes much to the commission. He is here today, however, to provide testimony as an individual expert.