Meet Your Local Candidates

The provincial election will be held on Thursday June 12, 2014. It is important to go out and meet your candidates, get to know their positions, and educate them about the need to address mental health and addiction challenges in Ontario.

The Ontario Mental Health and Addiction Alliance encourages everyone who wants to put this issue on the election agenda to meet with your local candidates. The broader the group the greater the impact, so try to include individuals directly affected by mental illness and addiction as well as organizations such as mental health and/or addictions agencies, housing providers and community health centres.

Why meet with your candidates?

  • Mental health and addictions affect so many people. Meeting with a candidate face to face is an opportunity to hear more about their background.
  • A face‐to‐face meeting gives you a chance to learn more about what your local candidates know about mental health and addictions, and provides an opportunity for you to educate them about what is needed.
  • Meeting with candidates is an opportunity to get into more detail about local issues and to reinforce the key messages being delivered to the party leaders:
    • Make a full range of mental health and addictions services and supports accessible to every person in Ontario, when and where needed.
    • Ensure that people with mental health and/or addictions issues have access to safe and affordable housing with supports as needed.
    • Engage stakeholders in meaningful collaboration to provide guidance on the implementation of Ontario’s mental health and addiction initiatives.

Meeting with candidates – step by step

Scheduling the meeting:

  • Find out who your local candidates are. This information can be found at the Elections Ontario website (www.elections.on.ca) or by visiting the individual party websites.
  • Send your request for a meeting in writing, stating who you are and why you are requesting the meeting.
  • Confirm how long the meeting will be, and plan an agenda for this amount of time.
  • Call the day before to confirm the meeting.

In advance of the meeting:

  • Research the candidate. Find out about their background, and look for experience or connection with our sector.
  • Think about what your “key messages” are – these are the points that you want to make sure to get across. Write them down and bring them with you to the meeting so you can be reminded to repeat them often. For example:
    • Mental health and addictions must be a priority for the next government
    • People in this community care about mental health and addictions, and we will consider it when we vote
    • All Ontarians must have access to key mental health and addictions services
    • Children and youth in this community wait far too long to access services
    • Access to safe and affordable housing is key to recovery, and it reduces pressure on hospitals
  • Gather information on local data and statistics, particularly information that demonstrates there are challenges for people accessing services in your community.
  • Develop a few “asks” – these are things that the local candidate could have as campaign commitments related to mental health and addictions. For ideas you can use documentation developed by the Alliance, available at http://www.vote4mha.ca. Some suggestions include:
    • Make a commitment to increasing the number of supportive housing spaces in your community
    • Make a commitment to increasing funding for mental health and addiction services in your community
    • Make a commitment to getting to know local service providers; and in doing so, understand the successes, gaps and opportunities within your local riding

At the meeting:

  • Arrive on time.
  • Focus on discussion, not debate. Present your issues in a clear way, referring back to your key messages as much as possible.
  • Be sure to discuss how mental health issues directly affect you, your friends and your family. Personal stories have an impact.
  • Engage in active listening to determine the candidate’s views, beliefs, and values.
  • Present your asks — tell the candidate what you think they should commit to in this election campaign, and how this would help address mental health and addictions in your community.
  • Offer your assistance – ask “What can we do to help you to advance mental health and addictions issues and work towards these changes?”
  • Leave enough time for discussion and questions.

What to leave behind:

  • Prepare a package that includes Alliance documents (available at www.vote4mha.ca), information on local issues, and your contact information.

After the meeting:

  • Send a letter to the candidate, thanking them for meeting with you. (We have provided a sample thank you letter.) Offer your expertise or assistance on these issues in the future.

» Download a Sample Thank You Letter to Candidates (DOCX)