Private citizen and spokesperson for no one but herself Rita Smith commends the province of Ontario on announcing the first-ever Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in its June 20th cabinet shuffle.
“I hope that in the hours and days ahead we will see the entire community of mental health professionals and organizations step up to congratulate the province and the new minister on this important step forward in Ontario’s history,” says Smith, who was part of the launch of the Mental Health Commission of Canada under then-Health Minister Tony Clement in 2008.
“This announcement by Premier Doug Ford is welcomed and appreciated certainly by individuals caring for family members and loved ones suffering mental illness and/or addiction issues,” says Smith, who has a considerable amount of non-professional experience in supporting folks who have been thrust unexpectedly into the chaotic maelstrom of attempting to find care for loved ones who urgently need it.
“While we are thanking and congratulating those who deserve it, I would also like to commend the Ontario Provincial Police for providing Mental Health First Aid training and De-escalation Training as part of its Mental Health Strategy.
“Every Canadian can take Mental Health First Aid training through the MHCC and local partners, and everybody should,” Smith goes on to nag. “The current mental health crisis is not something we can pay police and healthcare workers to make go away, or to deal with on our behalf while we do other things. It is incumbent upon every one of us to be as informed about mental health first aid as we are about physical first aid.”
Smith offer special congratulations to Ontario’s first Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo who, she says, “is the most perfect person on the planet to serve as Ontario’s champion for mental health supports.”
“I am pretty sure I can speak for anyone who ever ran late in a meeting with Michael Tibollo while he went off on a mental health tangent: this Ministry could not be in better hands. God help the staff that stand in his way or tell him ‘no,’ but it will all be for the greater good, I am sure.”
And while she has your attention, Smith wants to re-iterate what she has learned in all the years of hoping to help loved ones struggling with mental illness.
“As important as it is to get a professional diagnosis – and it is crucial to have a professional in your ‘circle of care’ – following these five basic life rules will help you cope, recover and get back on track no matter what your diagnosis is:
- Eat healthy food;
- Get 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, in the sunshine if you can;
- Get a good night’s sleep – work on your sleep routine
- Avoid substances like alcohol and drugs
- Spend time with family members who love and support you.”
“Thank you, Premier Ford and Minister Tibollo for this long-overdue appointment. Your work will help a lot of people.”
I actually wrote up the process for Brandied Fruit in response to a Facebook request – short and sweet, but this is basically it. Start in June! There is no “making Brandied Fruit” at Christmas.
“Sue, it’s not a recipe so much as a process. It is different every year, depending on what berries I can get and when I find the time!
Basically a cup of rum or brandy and a cup of sugar poured over berries in season, start with that. 3 or so cups of berries.
The lid is left on loosely, not sealed. Sit it in a cupboard or counter (not in bright sun) until new berries come into season.
By then the first batch will be sitting in a pile of liquid, sugar, brandy, fruit juice. Wash the new berries and add to the jar. Every now and then you might slosh in some more brandy and more sugar.
As the summer goes on I have to dump everything into a giant mixing bowl and divide it out into MORE jars as I add more berries. These 4 jars will grow to 8 or 10.
Generally the order of the summer goes:
- peaches (skin removed, cut in big chunks).
You can add gooseberries and wild blueberries if you can get them.
Some people add pineapple, I did that once it was good but not “Ontario.”
In a perfect world all the fruit is local but I got great raspberries and blackberries on sale Sunday so I started an impromptu batch! Still waiting for local strawberries.
Use cheap brandy, I usually use Ontario Small Cask brand. Rum is also good. The liquid starts to get fizzy and ferment-y, that’s fine, just don’t seal the jars tightly to allow the gas to escape. (These jars are never heat processed; the preservation is in the brandy and the sugar.)
When you are done adding fruit, pack the jars away until Christmas….you won’t believe the flavour! It’s quite magical.”