top of page

(Click here to view an online version of the petition):

Image caption: On the top of the image is the Disability Justice Network of Ontario Logo. Below that, a navy blue rectangle with white text in it reads "The Assistive Devices Program in Ontario Needs to change. Tweet us your experience at #ReformADP, Sign our petition at

The Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is mandated to help people in Ontario with long-term physical disabilities pay for customized equipment, like wheelchairs, walkers, communication devices, hearing aids, and more. The ADP is also supposed to help cover the costs of specialized supplies, such as those used with ostomies.

There are many problems with the ADP program. Though it is supposed to take 6-8 weeks to be able to have a file processed, people with disabilities can often wait for many more months to hear back about an application, and receive the required assistive device. This is due to a chronic underfunding and understaffing of the program.

ADP program does not cover repair costs. People with disabilities are forced to pay repair costs themselves, which can cost thousands of dollars in many cases, leaving us to believe that assistive devices are not viewed as a necessary part of our healthcare infrastructure. This leads to many people with disabilities not having the support they need to live full, independent lives, and in the worst case scenario, putting lives at risk.

Additionally, The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care specifies that people with disabilities are expected to pay "their share" of the costs for assistive devices directly, by either going to non profits, charities, insurance companies, relatives, or friends for money.

Lastly, people who wait for repairs for their assistive devices, after coming up with the money to cover their repairs, often have to wait for months to receive their equipment because vendors that sell or repair assistive devices are not properly licensed or subjected to reviews. This leaves people without the devices they need for an undue amount of time.

Assistive devices are necessary for people with disabilities to be able to live and function. Assistive devices should be treated as a necessary part of our healthcare system, not a luxury addition. The Disability Justice Network is calling for the following changes, and asks for your support through signing the following petition:

We, the undersigned, are concerned residents in Ontario with disabilities or are allies of the disabilities. We urge The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to take the following actions as it pertains to the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) in Ontario:

  • License all vendors that sell and/or repair assistive devices in Ontario.

  • Have all vendors that sell and/or repair assistive devices be subjected to annual reviews by The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

  • Mandate and enforce timely access to assistive devices funded partially or in full by The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care including addressing the backlogged files as it relates to Assistive Devices Program.

  • Mandate, fund, and enforce timely access to repairs as it relates to assistive devices funded partially or in full by The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. including addressing the backlogged files as it relates to Assistive Devices Program.

  • Mandate and enforce clearer supports as it relates to the transition between pediatric and adult services.

  • Mandate and enforce adequate staffing for the Assistive Devices Program, in order to address the backlog.

  • Provide necessary loaner assistive devices for people with disabilities who are having their assistive devices repaired.

Author’s Note

Hey there! My name’s Cas. I’m the partner of an amazing human, the proud parent of 2 dogs and 3 rats, an astrologer, an artist, and a budding musician. I’m working on growing as a disability and lgbt2q activist.

I also have unmedicated schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.

Writing this article was something I felt as though I must write. As I find more self-awareness, I become more aware of the growing stigma towards those with schizophrenia, people on the schizo-spectrum, and those who struggle with psychosis (having to do with mood disorders, health conditions, or otherwise). I’ve found myself needing to be my own ally in these situations, outting myself as an individual with psychosis. It’s been tiring, but the only way that this stigma around myself and people like me will be broken is if I speak for myself and make others feel safer to voice their experiences.

With that in mind, no two people with psychosis experience the exact same hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking. My experiences are my own and are not sized to specifically fit the experience of someone else.

The second extremely important point that I want caretakers, friends, and family of a loved one living with psychosis to consider is that we still have our own autonomy. It does not matter how far removed we are from current reality; we are still people with our own thoughts and feelings. We all have different things that we need when we are in a position of not being able to be or feel present. It doesn’t matter if I think I’m the second coming of Christ; I still want to be treated with respect and without judgement. I want safe spaces to exist in, and I want safe people to talk to, just the same as if I were fully immersed in reality and at home in my own body.

Many people I’ve spoken to with a limited knowledge of psychosis (which turns out is mostly everyone who hasn’t had to deal with it personally or doesn’t know anyone with struggling with it) think that being psychotic means hearing voices, delusions of grandeur, and zero self-awareness on the part of the person experiencing it. They also think it means that we’re more unpredictable and violent, serial killers and school shooters, political dictators, and manipulative people to be avoided at all cost.

The bottom line is, we make people very uncomfortable by merely existing. If we experience hallucinations and/or delusional thinking in public, we are often marked as crazy, psycho, or on hard drugs. People don’t know what to do with us. I’ve had reactions range from people filming me and laughing at me, calling the cops on me, or approaching me to tell me I need help and that they would take me to the nearest shelter or psych ward. We inconvenience non-psychotic people to the extent of wanting us locked away, not caring too much what happens to us once we’re in police custody or institutionalized. Out of sight, out of mind.

Types of Hallucinations:

Visual Hallucinations - seeing something that doesn’t exist, or seeing something that exists but incorrectly.

Auditory Hallucinations - Thought to be the most hallmark hallucination of those experiencing psychosis by medical professionals. Can present as a constant buzzing or humming noise, whispers, muffled talking, and laughing. Voices may say complimentary, neutral, or critical words and are often a running commentary on the person who is experiencing the hallucination’s life or actions. Command hallucinations may occur, but are more rare. These can be extremely distressing to experience, but many who experience them learn to live with the voices.

Olfactory Hallucination - Smelling Odours that do not exist. For example, smelling gas or propane followed by the fear of an explosion. Usually present as unpleasant odours, such as vomit, urine, feces, smoke or rotting flesh.

Tactile Hallucinations - A sense that one is being touched when they are not. The most common complaint is feeling as though bugs are crawling all over the skin.

Gustatory Hallucination - Tasting something that is not present

General Somatic Hallucination - When a person experiences the sensations of being severely hurt, such as decapitation of limbs, disembowelment, and mutilation. Patients with psychosis have described animals trying to take over the body, such as snakes or bugs entering the ears, mouth, eyes, and stomach.

What Not to do:

  • Do not call the police when someone is experiencing psychosis. We already experience increased police violence especially if we are racialized or otherwise marginalized

  • Do not decide anything for us when we are experiencing psychosis or deepening delusional thinking. You do not know how your decisions will affect us in the long run.

  • Do not treat us like we’re not there when you’re talking about us, assuming that we are not self-aware enough to hear what you’re saying

  • Do not assume that our needs are a one-size-fits-all situation

  • Do not argue with us when we are experiencing delusional thinking or try to goad us into institutionalization. This leads to greater mistrust. There are many gaps making healthcare hard to access for us, and in most cases we are turned away or given medication without a follow up.

  • Do not judge us.

  • Do not take advantage of us when we are removed from reality. Do not manipulate us into seeking help when we are not ready to seek help

  • Do not become friends with us without setting healthy boundaries, and then get angry with us when we have a difficult time understanding what you need.

  • If you see us on the streets, do not try and help us if you’re unequipped to, or if you are unable to actively listen to what we need

  • Do not validate our delusions by telling us that we’re spiritually advanced or blessed, and can see things others can’t.

Please Do This Instead:

  • When we seem to be lucid and more self-aware, talk to us about a self-care plan. Plan ahead for the next time we may be in crisis to help with a smoother transition.

  • If our self-care plan includes reaching out to third-parties for help (our general practitioner, our therapist, our close family and friends) know who to call and have their numbers handy.

  • Be aware of the routines we follow when we’re well. Do your best to help implement those schedules when we’re unwell.

  • If you’re unsure what to do, help us with making our living space more breathable. If we’re unwell, it will most likely be chaos. Help us cook and meal prep, so we can focus on the things necessary for our healing without feeling smothered.

  • Do your research. It shouldn’t be up to us to educate everyone on how to treat us with basic human decency.

  • Understand how our other identities intersect and correlate with our psychosis.

  • Treat us in the same way you do when we’re lucid. Treating us like toddlers breaks the trust we’ve taken a long time to form. Remember that we are still people with our own needs and feelings.

  • Give us a non judgemental and safe space to exist and speak about our experiences

  • Step in if you hear someone using negative stereotypes about people with psychosis, especially if those stereotypes pathologize us or paint us as crazy or violent.

  • Remove ableist language from your vocabulary and understand that we have the ability to self-identify as crazy or psycho without hearing these terms used in derogatory ways against us.

Online Resources:

A blue, blue haired being with three tentacle eyes, peers at the audience. They're wearing a yellow crown and have facial hair: a mustache, a goatee and sideburns. They address "Fellow Neurotypicals," in cursive writing written at the top of the page, and they're surrounded by yellow exclaimation marks. In a yellow speech bubble next to them, they write "I've since learned that I don't have to fit the neurotypical mold to be productive/adhere to capitalist-bullshit."
Artwork by Cas

Personal Story:

My experiences with psychosis are extremely nuanced and play off of my other mental health issues, such as my c-PTSD. To others, I appear lucid most of the time. I have learned to live with voices and hallucinations, and for the most part I have learned to differentiate hallucinations from reality once I have time to process what has happened and have conversations with my Safe People. I have had to dedicate my time to working through a lot of my c-PTSD and stress that triggers my symptoms, but it didn’t always use to be this way.

The first time my mom kicked me out, it was because she didn’t know how to handle me.

She had started a relationship with an abusive man who terrified me when he drank. He was at least 6 feet and all muscle. It wasn’t rare that I witnessed abuse towards her and my younger siblings by his hands, and sexual assault towards my mom late at night while I tried to sleep after he had had one too many.

The stress of it caused something to stir in me. I isolated myself save for my one best friend who I told everything to. I started to hallucinate sexual and physical assault that wasn’t happening. I eavesdropped into their conversations and intervened when no intervention was necessary, trying to keep my mother safe. Bringing nothing but a backpack full of water bottles and a bible, I ran away for a night believing that I only needed the word of the lord to sustain me. I was failing in school and went through periods of eating my lunch alone in the bathroom or the library, hoping nobody would bother me.

Sleep-deprived and unemotive, I started hallucinating bugs in my bed at night, crawling all over my skin and entering my ears and mouth during school, and snuck downstairs when I returned home each evening to steal my moms boyfriends alcohol, weed and cigarettes which he hid in the high rafters of our house. I started skipping school when before my attendance record had been clean, and my grades began to slip despite a general understanding of the coursework.

Unsure of what to do besides bringing me to christian therapy which wasn’t working and reading countless books titled things like “Dealing with a Difficult Child,” my mom decided it was time to send me to Northern Quebec to live with my dad. I had only met him a handful of times and all I knew was that he was incarcerated when I was young for petty crime such as car theft, as well as bigger things such as aggravated assault; he had threatened to drown my mom for things like cutting her hair and accepting help with food security, and had stalked me at a distance for 7 years before I had met him. He had recently tried to abduct my younger brother and forcefully bring him to his apartment in Quebec before the cops intervened before I moved in.

I was terrified of moving in with him. The paranoia he gave me after he had stalked me and abducted my brother was sky-high, and manifested in delusions of being watched constantly.

I wasn’t sure how long she wanted me to stay with him, and it ended up being 3 months until I begged her to come home. He had made my hallucinations worse, telling me that he could enter my dreams if I called him, telling me that television personalities were all aliens and how everyone on his side of the family had psychic powers. I started believing that I was something called a starseed, an alien sent to this earth to awaken everyone from the human condition. I believed I was empathetic and could read the emotions of others. He would leave drugs and cigarettes out for me as a test, to see if I took them (which I did). I was soon dependant more than I had been before, and this made my psychosis worse.

While in a relationship with my first boyfriend I experienced intense paranoia that he was trying to take my money and poison me. This was not a far stretch at the time; he had waited until my 18th birthday to invite me to sleep over (he was 24 at the time), knowing full well that I was mentally unwell and on a steady binge of drugs and alcohol. He manipulated me in ways that worked; I was engaging in non-consensual sex with him, frequent late night benders where he would leave me in unfamiliar houses with people who took advantage of the fact that I was passed out to have their way with me in payment for drugs I thought were free.

When my mom kicked me out for the second time because I came out as transgender, he was the only one I could turn to. Most of my old friends had distanced themselves from me and I was having a hard time finding my community. He cleared out a drawer for me and I moved in, throwing most of the clothes I had in garbage bags and travelled by bus to settle in.

I dropped out of my final year of highschool and started isolating myself from everyone besides my partner at the time and a good friend who had also dropped out of highschool. She was the least judgemental person I had in my life, regardless of the fact that we both enabled each other. I became dependant on her and received free alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes since she was dealing to support herself. She lived with her partner at the time in a studio apartment and I would spend late nights with her and her friends, doing hot-knives, drinking as much alcohol as we could stomach and smoking cigarettes.

One early morning I woke up in a cold sweat, grabbed my things from my boyfriends house, and ran over to her house. Wide-eyed, I asked if I could speak with her privately. We locked ourselves in the small bathroom and split a cigarette. I told her my now-ex boyfriend had stolen money from me and tried to explain a lot of the things that had happened to me while living with him. She rubbed my back and told me that we would figure it out together.

My life continued like this for a long while. We eventually got a place together; me, her and her boyfriend. We slept in the same mattress on the floor, woke up together, did drugs and drank, frequented the local bars. We went through homelessness together which is when I experienced a newfound oxy, coke, and ritalin addiction, but I was so grateful to have someone by my side who understood and looked out for me. I thought love meant leaving me a line on the back of the toilet in the washroom of the Celtic Pub.

It wasn’t all bad, it was all we knew. I leaned on her for support, up until another large bout of paranoia. I was afraid she was getting sick of me, and I grew more and more irritated with having to share such close quarters with her. I felt myself isolating, not leaving our room unless I needed booze, drugs, or cigarettes. The bugs returned, as well as the delusion I was being slowly poisoned. Her boyfriend started lecturing me and yelling at me, demanding I pay them more rent since I wasn’t on the lease. My *inner voice* got loud again, telling me that the problems I was experiencing were my own fault and that I should just leave and isolate so nobody could find me or be burdened by my dependency. The voice wouldn’t shut up. I packed up and left, and haven’t seen her since besides a brief run-in, moving back in with my mom.

In the meantime I’ve been through multiple unhelpful and unsuccessful hospitalizations, although I got to know myself while I was being institutionalized. I learned how to stand on my own two feet, learned where my resources, community, and safe spaces were. I’ve been trying my best to unlearn harmful behaviour that I’ve been using as a coping mechanism for survival and replace these behaviours with healthier behaviour. My love of Evolutionary Astrology acts as harm reduction from being groomed through Christianity as a child and quenches my thirst for spirituality, and gives me the language to work through my trauma in terminology I understand. Learning to make music and art has been a life-saving coping mechanism for when I need to express myself in a healthy way. Understanding that I need a schedule to keep on top of hygiene, to make sure I eat 3 meals a day, and to regulate my sleep has been crucial.

Fast forward to now, and I’m healing and thriving, in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever experienced with my partner of 5 years (although we both had a lot of learning and growing to do along the way). I’m in stable housing, and am fostering friendships with people that I know are good for me and are open to talking about boundaries and lend in mutual support. Learning more about mental health and community care has saved me a huge amount of heartache. Setting boundaries has gotten easier and I’m learning to articulate what I want and need, and in turn listening more closely to the boundaries of others. I still have the same symptoms of psychosis, but am learning what the early signs of an episode are and am able to practice greater self-awareness while being aware of my triggers. To top it all off, I have been drug free for 3 years and counting, although I struggle with relapses when it comes to my alcohol addiction. Reminding myself that progress is not linear and to expect periods of remission has saved me from fully relapsing without looking back many times.

The point of me sharing my story isn’t to make anyone feel bad or to milk the sympathy of others, but rather to highlight the ways in which I needed help as a young teenager going through terrifying experiences that drove me to drink and do drugs, and otherwise engage in unhealthy behaviour that usually triggers psychotic episodes. Throughout my life there was almost no awareness around psychosis. Everyone around me was convinced that I only suffered depression, as most of the mental health awareness they have been exposed to was solely around anxiety and depression. In order to better understand our peers who struggle with psychosis, we must make a greater attempt to educate and spread awareness about how life actually plays out for us, and the things we need to make instability preventable.

Mental health is a housing and homelessness issue, it’s a poverty issue, it’s an addictions issue, and it’s an accessible healthcare issue. If we focus on making these things better and making stability accessible in the ways that we can, there is no cap on the progress we can make as a united and powerful community.

Reading Material:

Submitted by: Terri Wallis, Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO) Campaigns Committee Member

To the City of Hamilton Councillors and General Issues Committee (GIC):

My name is Terri Wallace. I am a Disability Rights Activist and a Community Activist as well as an artist. I have multiple disabilities both visible and invisible. I have dedicated my life to doing my best to help others with disabilities because when you make life better for people with disabilities you also make life better for their families, friends, co workers, classmates and everyone else around them. Please accept my following testimony regarding the dangers of uncleared sidewalks in Hamilton Ontario.

Winter can be a difficult time for everyone, but for people with disabilities it can be extremely dangerous. There have been many times that my life has been put in jeopardy due to issues regarding snow removal. For those of us who use mobility devices to get around, a snowfall means we will be trapped in our homes for several days and if we do have to go out using sidewalks is out of the question. We are almost always forced to wheel on the road or in bike lanes because the sidewalks are never cleared sufficiently for our mobility device. For someone with a mobility device to be able to use a sidewalk the entire sidewalk and the curb cut must be clear of snow and ice. It takes only a very small amount of snow for a wheelchair to become stuck, and once that happens it is almost impossible for us to free ourselves without help. This experience is always very frustrating and upsetting and can very easily result in a medical emergency. Many of us with disabilities are very susceptible to the cold and hypothermia can easily result depending on the temperature, weather conditions, your location and the time of day as well as the traffic in the area. Being stuck and completely helpless is a terrible feeling. You have absolutely no shelter and have to wait for someone to come by who is able and willing to help you and unfortunately that's not everybody. Even when put in manual it takes a lot of strength to free a 300 pound power wheelchair from even the smallest amount of snow or ice.

I went through this last week on Upper James. It took a Police officer and an HSR driver to free me. The only reason I found myself in this situation was because the bus stop I wanted to get was not available because the curb cut to the sidewalk wasn't clear and the snow along the curb of the entire bus stop wasn't clear so there was no place for the driver to lower the ramp. I had no choice but to head down to the next stop which was a fair distance away. There was a small section of the sidewalk that wasn’t clear ahead of me. I couldn't go back and wheel on the road because of the amount of traffic and lack of room so I had to go forward. It wasn't too much snow but it was enough for me to become stuck. We can't get out of our chairs so we are helpless until someone comes to our aid.

Imagine what this can be like for someone and then try to imagine how much worse it would be for someone with mental health issues as well. This section of sidewalk was the City's responsibility and it had been several days since the last snowfall so there is no excuse for this sidewalk to not have been cleared. Does anyone check to make sure that the people hired to do this job are actually doing their job. Every time I leave my home I have to wheel on the road because the sidewalks and curb cuts on my street are never cleared. There is a vacant lot on Market Street near Caroline that doesn't seem to be anyone's responsibility to clear which means that sidewalk is never useable. Last winter I was forced to wheel on King Street near Queen and was run into a snowbank by a car whose driver thought it would be fun to play chicken with someone in a wheelchair. I was in a bus stop lane at the time so this was no accident. Imagine if you were visually impaired and couldn't see that the sidewalks had areas of snow or ice that hadn't been cleared of if the curb cut hadn't been shoveled.

It doesn't matter what type of disability you have if the sidewalks are not cleared properly not only are you being greatly and unfairly inconvenienced, your life is being put in danger. Everyone needs to be educated about this including residents, City staff, and those employees of snow removal companies who are responsible for keeping our sidewalks safe. There are many ways that this can be done but it must be done but it must be done before someone needlessly loses their life due to inadequate snow removal. When you have a disability everything that allows you to live your life comes down to money. Accessibility is always a question of money, whether we receive the equipment we rely on to live comes down to money and snow removal costs money. It's very sad when our very lives and our life and death are reduced to nothing but how much it costs and I really hope that today you will thick of us as Human Beings and not just another expense. Thank you for listening.

Terri Wallace

Campaigns Committee Member

Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO)

905-906-DJNO (3566)

About Terri Wallis:

I am a Disability Rights Activist and a Community Activist as well as an artist. I have multiple disabilities both visible and invisible. I have dedicated my life to doing my best to help others with disabilities because when you make life better for people with disabilities you also make life better for their families, friends, co workers, classmates and everyone else around them. Disability will effect everyone either directly or indirectly at some point in their life. Of you aren't born with a disability and avoid acquiring one through accident or illness then as you age you are very likely to develop some type of disability. It isn't something that happens to someone else, it happens to everyone. I feel that raising public awareness with regards to discrimination against people with disabilities is extremely important and helping people understand that inaccessibility is a form of discrimination is an important next step in achieving equality and freedom and acceptance for those with disabilities. I have been on the City's Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities for the past 12 years ,a member of the Metrolinx Accessibility Advisory Committee for 11 years, former Chair of the Jamesville Hub, former member of the Ontario BIA Accessibility Advisory Committee, Vice Chair of Pride Hamilton, Board member of Rainbow Mentors, member of the Hamilton Centre NDP riding association, Artist and Creator behind ZombieArt by Terri and much more. I have lived in Hamilton since September 2000 and ran for City Council in 2014 finishing 2nd behind Jason Farr.

bottom of page