Politicians listen at St. Paul’s ‘accountability session’

Carolyn Bennett with Giselle Russell.
LISTENING: St. Paul’s MP Carolyn Bennett, left, has a heart-to-heart with Giselle Russell following her public summit Sunday afternoon at Leo Baeck Day School on Arlington Avenue. Russell had made an emotional appeal to the panel of local politicians for government input in helping her manage her son’s struggle with mental health issues.

About three dozen people streamed into the auditorium of Leo Baeck Day School on Arlington Avenue on Sunday afternoon to interact with their local politicians in a public summit organized by St. Paul’s MP Carolyn Bennett.

The Vaughan Road and St. Clair Avenue West area school became the setting for what Bennett called an “accountability session” in the “St. Paul’s model,” where the three levels of government should work together. Participants included MPP Eric Hoskins, city councillors Josh Matlow and Josh Colle, and TDSB trustee Shelley Laskin.

Former prime minister John Turner made an appearance.

Entitled “Supporting Modern Families”, the event featured dialogue on topics such as tenants’ rights, housing costs, senior care, child care and mental health.

Local resident Giselle Russell made an emotional plea for help in managing her son’s battle with mental illness. The audience was visible moved as she asked the panel why the mental health care system has seemingly failed him. Both Bennett and Hoskins, the provincial health minister, promised to help.

“We get the stories, the advice, and often solutions of experts and people with lived experience,” Bennett said afterward, and referred to the panel as “the people who are paying attention, who know what’s working and what’s not working, and come here to help.”