Champlain Peer Network Welcome to CPN


Summary of the Champlain Peer Network’s Presentation of:





The Champlain Peer Network (CPN) was formed in 2008 and is a partnership of peer support initiatives (also called Consumer Survivor Initiatives or CSIs). Initially under the Eastern Regional Network (covering all of Eastern Ontario), CSIs in Champlain have been working together since the early 1990s – more recently under the “CPN” covering the Champlain area. The primary mandate of the “CPN” is to provide organizational support to member initiatives and to provide advice to the Champlain LHIN on issues relating to peer support and mental health. The membership of the CPN includes all funded CSIs, but also has broader community representation. There are peer support networks in each region of the province, funded by the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care. All of these networks are tasked with providing CSI organizational support, participating in system planning exercises, and providing input to their Local Health Integration Networks.


Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSI) are peer support organizations funded by the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care in the province of Ontario. Their funding is now administered through fourteen “Local Health Integration Networks”, who were created by the Ministry of Health to plan, evaluate, and fund health services. The Champlain Peer Network boundaries are consistent with the Champlain “LHIN”: Renfrew County, Ottawa, and Eastern Counties (Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry; Prescott-Russell) and the northern portions of Lanark, Leeds & Grenville.


Summary of Speakers and Panel Topics


Stephen Pocklington


Stephen Pocklington is the founding director and lead trainer for Well Beyond Recovery, an organization that promotes wellbeing and self-determination for all people. With 25 years of experience working in the mental health field (and a lifetime of dealing with why we have such a field), Stephen is committed to expanding the limits of what we think possible for ourselves, and to growing our awareness of the transformational power of companionship and unconditional valuing.


Healthy Lifestyles Panel

Kim Umbach, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario


Kim described the project being led through MDAO, one of six pilots funded through “Minding Our Bodies”. Minding Our Bodies is a three-year project (2008-2011) focused on increasing capacity within the community mental health system in Ontario to promote active living and healthy eating for people with serious mental illness to support recovery. This is an initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, in partnership with Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre, YMCA Ontario, and York University's Faculty of Health with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion ( A registered dietician and personal trainer with lived experience co-led a series of group meetings where the focus was on improving health through healthier eating and increased physical activity. Some of the outcomes of interest were the impact on mood, sleep, label reading literacy, and understanding inter-relationships of food, physical activity and health. The evaluation of the project showed promising findings. A resource kit is being prepared, and there is work ongoing on how the program could be disseminated more broadly, potentially through a train the trainer model.


Peer Support and Rural Realities

Richard Gauthier, CMHA Champlain East

Debbie Laventure, SHARE Program, Pembroke

Marie-Anne Levac, Prescott-Russell Assertive Community Treatment Team


The following are excerpts from Richard Gauthier’s presentation – the full presentation is available as well. Members of the panel discussed challenges, successes, and some of the lessons learned from working in primarily rural areas.



·         Poverty issues in rural centres differ from urban centres; individuals have less access to municipal initiatives or opportunities. Limited funding availability from small municipal governments in rural areas also impacts on poverty and mental health issues.

·         Large geographic area to serve;

·         Fewer community resources, formal or informal

·         Lack of transportation

·         Isolation factors

·         Increased stigma

·         Large geographic area to serve;

·         Fewer community resources, formal or informal

·         Lack of transportation

·         Isolation factors

·         Increased stigma

STIGMA: Anonymity is difficult in rural settings. This results in individuals consulting outside of their community or not at all


Lessons Learned – Recommendations:

·         Reinforce the no wrong door approach and recovery approach at all level of services

·         Establish benchmarks for all mental health and addiction services in rural settings

·         Design and fund an anti-stigma campaign for rural areas.

·         Create more Peer Resource programming to allow for quicker discharge from Intensive services

·         Use a holistic approach or rural services.

·         Ensure a continuum of care across services in rural settings

Richard also highlighted, among other successes, the CMHA Champlain East Transportation Program. The Branch has started a small free transportation program which is incorporated within the supported employment program.

A) Transportation to Peer Resource Centres, moving, appointments

B) The drivers are Branch clients and receive employment support from an Intensive Case Manager.

C) Serves as a stepping stone to employment outside the Branch



CMHA Champlain East Peer Resource Centres:

Peer Support and Francophone Perspectives

Richard Gauthier, CMHA Champlain East

Marie-Anne Levac, Prescott-Russell Assertive Community Treatment Team


The panel discussed experiences in providing Francophone peer support, including challenges and strategies. It’s critical to understand that people are ill first in their mother tongue. Many Francophones access English services because that’s all that’s available or there’s a need to wait until there are sufficient numbers of Francophones on a wait list before a Francophone group (or other service) is started. Peer support workers from CMHA Champlain East talked about how they conduct their members’ meetings – one is Anglophone and the other Francophone but both are fully bilingual: every component in the meeting is translated back and forth between these two staff. Other strategies should include having more capacity for translation, education and training for staff on the importance of Francophone groups and services, and increased capacity in peer support.


Peer Support and Hospitals

Peer support can play many roles within, outside of, and in partnership with hospitals. Presenters will explore these partnerships, lessons learned and successes.

Sonja Cronkhite, Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa

Al Strong, Self-Help Alliance, Waterloo

Fiona Wilson, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Hamilton


Al Strong provided an overview of the partnership between the Self-Help Alliance and a local Schedule 1 (acute care) hospital:

The SHA had developed a “Peer Navigator” position as a proposal to the LHIN around two and a half years ago – essentially someone who walked the path with a person as they entered and left the system. While the proposal wasn’t successful, the Schedule 1 (of its own accord and with its funding) approached the SHA to establish a peer position situated in the Emergency Room but employed and managed by the SHA. A formal agreement was established with the hospital over a period of six months of planning. One of the key lessons learned through the implementation process was that a better job needed to be done in communicating the peer worker position to the ER staff. After some time, it was agreed that the peer position would work more effectively in the inpatient mental health unit – this seems to present more opportunities to really engage and build relationships with people than working in the ER. It has also provided opportunities to have groups and individual contacts. As part of the evaluation, an online survey was done with staff, and with people who had used the peer navigator. People who were inpatients overwhelmingly found the navigator position worthwhile and useful. There was also positive feedback from staff working in the inpatient unit. Staff in the ER were more likely to question the value of the position. The program is now in an expansion phase with the SHA in the process of interviewing for an additional 2.75FTE (full-time equivalent) peer navigators and 1FTE for the peer support position on the Assertive Community Treatment Team.


Fiona Wilson provided an overview of the Peer Support Program (a distinct program) at St. Joseph’s Health Care Group. This program is funded by the hospital and staff are staff of the hospital. The program operation is very much driven by peers and run by peers, with very close ties to the community-based peer organization in the area. The budget is quite small. One of the goals of the program is to assist people in transitioning to the community-based peer support i.e. complements existing community resources. Peer support is not a formal part of the clinical teams on the various inpatient units which means there is greater flexibility in how they approach relationships with people who are on the units i.e. don’t chart on the clinical chart, use very simple and straightforward notes. Fiona noted that one of the lessons learned over the years is that providing good peer support requires people to have certain skills and knowledge - having lived experience alone is not sufficient. This is something that both people interested in providing peer support and staff in the hospital have needed education on. It’s also been important to draw a distinction between advocating with someone, versus advocating for someone (which is something that should be done through the PPAO).


Sonja Cronkhite provided an overview of the Peer2Peer Wellness Program that is delivered by Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa. The program that trains and matches volunteer peer supporters with people who are inpatients at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, with the goal of assisting people as they transition to the community to build their own recovery with support from a peer experienced in the mental health system. Individuals who have experienced their own mental health challenges are trained in the philosophy of peer support and recovery, and patient rights in addition to the skills needed to provide support. Trained peer supporters and people awaiting support are then matched up, provided with a small honorarium to support their meetings and have access to a Peer Support Coordinator for additional assistance. Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) classes are available to both the peer and peer supporter to provide additional recovery tools. Sonja talked about the idea that people providing peer support can sometimes want to “save” people even more than staff working in mental health organizations or hospitals. - part of the training and ongoing support should include discussions on maintaining a healthy balance between support and “saving”. For additional information see