An individual person may be faced by challenge and injustice but so may a community. The collective rights of people with mental health challenges are not always respected.
Issues of poverty and social exclusion abound, the health care system is overtaxed, and mental health care is rarely seen as a priority. Funding cuts have been made to social services, social housing, and to Legal Aid. The cost of living soars but social security income remains woefully below survival capacity. Transportation fees are hiked each year so people living in poverty must choose, for example, between seeing their health care professional or going to the food bank; both are necessary but both are unaffordable. When one’s basic health and survival is a struggle, how can an individual fight? The answer is to fight together. The collective action program is the place where members can rally together, join collective actions and exercise their rights and privileges as citizens. Projet PAL is a determined organization that aims to instill determination in its members. It does this through popular education, political lobbying and concrete collective action. For example, in the past when people with mental health problems were the only population that did not have the right receive health care in the institution of their choice, we began a long and embattled journey to fight against this policy. Years of negotiations, press conferences as well as a class action suit eventually led to the abolishment of this unfair and illegal practice.
In recent times, members involved in our Anti-Poverty Committee decided to address the prohibitive costs of public transportation
How can they be active and engaged citizens if they can’t even get around? How does one attend a recovery meeting, a demonstration, or a job interview if one can’t afford the bus fare? These impassioned individuals revived the Mouvement collectif pour un transport abordable which mobilized its members to publicize the problem. After strategy meetings, public demonstrations and meetings with elected officials, the organizing committee of the Movement is currently working with the STM (Societé de Transports de Montréal) on a feasibility study for social fares. We remain determined and will get results!
Projet PAL is active, vocal and committed to its mission to improve the quality of life of people living with mental health challenges. It does this with the individual and it does so with the collective. Eventually it is done with the policy makers and society at large.