November 20, 2013

Canada’s First Men’s Support Centre In Toronto

Men’s activists in Toronto have announced that they have secured the funding for the first Canadian Centre for Men and Families by spring 2014. The centre will focus on addressing issues of equality, fatherlessness, declining enrolment and increasing suicide rates, according to the Canadian Association for Equality. Having originally raised over $50,000, the activist group was able to raise it’s financial goal to be met by November 30th through the crowd-sourcing site, Indiegogo.

Iain Dwyer, a founding member of the two-year-old organization, says, “We can use this to project ourselves, give people who need services somewhere to come, whether we help them at that centre or use it to refer them somewhere else,” adding that donations have come from all over the world. Mr. Dwyer is hoping the centre — which will likely be a rented second-floor office space somewhere along one of Toronto’s subway lines — will also serve as a “template” for universities looking to open men’s centres of their own. He said there are interested parties at York University, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph.

The notion of men’s centres have become a point of tension on university campuses across Canada, deemed unnecessary and even a challenge to women’s centres, which have been well established on many campuses since the 1970s. The most recent debate over men’s centres took place last year at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The student union voted to fund the centre, but the decision was met with fervent opposition.

However, the challenges faced by young men do appear to be real. According to the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 25% of men who drink are considered high-risk for alcohol abuse — that’s compared to 9% of female drinkers. Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information report that men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide. According to well-being indicators from Human Resources Canada, university enrolment for women has far outpaced enrolment for men, with 28% of women participating in 2005-2006 and only 18% of men.

Mr. Dwyer said the organization will expand its education and advocacy efforts but also offer services.

“We’re trying to deal with people who offer legal advice to men” on divorce and child custody concerns, Mr. Dwyer said. “And we’ve talked with a few psychologists who want to offer discounts for therapy services.”

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