From Surviving to Providing

Graduates with lived experience of mental health and addiction are paired up with senior psychiatry residents at the University of Toronto in a teaching role during their chronic rotation. They meet monthly 1 h for 6 months. The goals of the curriculum are to increase understanding of recovery among psychiatry residents and to foster the attitudes necessary for these future psychiatrists to deliver person-centered, strengths-based, recovery-oriented care.

Poverty and Health in the Transition to Residency Curriculum

For the past 7 years graduates have been involved in speaking to resident doctors at York University about treating poverty as a symptom based on a tool created by Dr. Bloch.

Connecting our Vulnerable to Primary Care


Police Training Video

RACI – Residents and Consumers Initiative

  • After hearing a speech by a graduate of Voices from the Street, a group of psychiatry residents organized a meeting with psychiatric survivors. They said they had never heard in their university lectures the kinds of things the speaker told them—how frightened homeless people are when they go to hospital emergency departments, for example. This meeting led to a group known as the Residents and Consumers Initiative. They meet once a month over dinner at the home of a psychiatry resident or consumer/ survivor, a daring way of breaking down barriers between professional and client. Now input from psychiatric survivors/consumers is integrated into the University of Toronto’s psychiatry curriculum.
  • A once a month gathering of psychiatric survivors and psychiatry residents to share perspectives and ideas to improve the quality of mental health services.
  • Attended a series of the history of psychiatry lectures at the University of Toronto and then met following to discuss what we learned.
  • Participated in the Grand Rounds at St. Michael’s Hospital, led by Pat Capponi.

 Innovator’s Council

  • Our voice at this table has ensured that full and paid participation of people with lived experience on this Council.
  • We were hired to facilitate and write a report using the expertise of homeless and formerly homeless individuals that was submitted to the City as part of their Housing Opportunities Toronto consultation.
  • We have been contracted by the Innovators Council to run the City of Toronto’s seven cooling centers which will allow us to hire and train over 40 people with lived experience of poverty and homelessness.
  • We have been contracted to hold two focus groups and write a report to submit to MCSS on the proposed Employment Accessibility Standard. Specifically, we will be attempting to ensure that the standard is reflective of the experience of people with addictions and mental health histories.

Partnership with the Urban Core Support Network, St. John, New Brunswick

  • In 2008, Voices From the Street participated in an exchange with members of the Urban Core Support Network (located in St. John, New Brunswick). Initially, we hosted a group of low-income women here in Toronto who learned from our Voices participants about using their personal stories as a weapon for change in the hopes of implementing a similar program in St. John.
  • A contingent of Voices members traveled to New Brunswick to speak to the group and learn about the organizing they are spearheading at the local level.

Social Justice Retreat

  • Every year the Center for Social Justice runs a social justice summer retreat at Camp Arowhan in Algonquin Park. For the past three years, Voices From the Street members have participated in the event as well as offered a number of workshops.
  • This retreat provides people, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to network with socially conscious people in a camp-like environment.


  • Monthly presentations at St. Michael’s Hospital for new resident doctors in the emergency department.
  • University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, York University, George Brown College, and Seneca College.
  • Canadian Auto Workers, Ontario Nurses Association, Ontario
  • Federation of Labour, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.
  • Toronto Social Services, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,
  • Toronto Drug Treatment Court, and Public Health
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada, (some provincial/federal
  • Food Banks Canada — to provide insight from people who have experienced hunger first-hand.
  • Toronto Community Development Institute: Was selected to facilitate a workshop titled “From the Margins to Action”
  • Seneca College: spoke to students in the “Introduction to Social Issues” class.
  • Human Service and Justice Conference: Provided a personal narrative about the experience as a psychiatric survivor going through the criminal justice system.
  • Employment and Social Services: Delivered a narrative about the experience of returning to the workforce after a history of substance use.
  • Community Social Planning Council and Toronto Community Housing: Presented on the importance of civic engagement and advocacy.
  • Peer Supprt Conferences

25 in 5 Poverty Reduction Network

  • Provided an authentic voice of experience at the 25 in 5 in table.
  • Built key relationships with the City that have given us access to various City departments, including Toronto Social Services.
  • Developed a relationship with the current government,  specifically Minister Matthews, which has enriched our experience as an advocacy organization as well as strengthened the government’s policy framework.

Boards, Committees and Advisory Panels