Mental Health Commission of Canada Appoints President & CEO

    CALGARY, Feb. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Michael Kirby, Chair of
the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), today announced the appointment
of Michael Howlett as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the newly
formed Commission. His appointment will take effect February 18, 2008.
    "Michael Howlett brings the vision, proven leadership and experience
essential to help the Commission achieve its ultimate goal of keeping mental
illness out of the shadows forever," said Michael Kirby, Chair of the MHCC`s
Board of Directors. "Michael Howlett has distinguished himself as a
results-oriented business and non-profit sector leader who is respected for
his work nationally and internationally. He understands the important balance
of fiscal and philanthropic responsibility."
    Mr. Howlett is currently the President and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes
Association (CDA). For the last five years, he has been a champion for those
affected by diabetes, working with government, the medical and research
community and business. Under his direction, the CDA experienced a dramatic
turnaround. It has become a financially sound and effective national
organization, internationally recognized as the authority in diabetes
research, education and advocacy.
    Mr. Howlett's professional career spans three decades. Prior to joining
CDA, he established himself both as a successful business leader and champion
of causes that defended those who could not defend themselves.
    "This is a great opportunity to make a difference. I have seen firsthand
the effect poor mental health can have on a family, and I look forward to
working on behalf of the Mental Health Commission to improve the lives of
Canadians impacted by mental illness. We look to build strong partnerships
with government and business to make mental health the foundation of total
health," said Mr. Howlett.
    The MHCC is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention
on mental health issues. It is funded by the federal government but operates
at arm's length from all levels of government. The Commission's objective is
to enhance the health and social outcomes for Canadians living with mental
health problems and illnesses.
    To achieve this goal the Commission is pursuing three key initiatives:
leading the development of a national mental health strategy; creating a
ten-year campaign to reduce the widespread stigma associated with mental
health problems and illnesses; and establishing a Knowledge Exchange Centre to
improve cross-sector communication about mental health and mental illness for
all Canadians.
    The Commission was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in response
to one of the recommendations in the report by the Standing Senate Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, titled "Out of the Shadows at Last
- Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in
Canada." Former Senator Michael Kirby was Chair of the Senate Committee and
Senator Wilbert Keon served as Deputy Chair during the drafting of the report.
    Funding for the Mental Health Commission of Canada was provided by the
Government of Canada in its March 2007 budget, and the Mental Health
Commission's Board of Directors held its first meeting on September 10, 2007.
    Mr. Kirby expressed his appreciation to Glenn Thompson for his leadership
as Interim President and CEO of the MHCC over the past 7 months.

    About the Mental Health Commission of Canada

    The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization
created to focus attention on mental health issues and to work to improve the
health and social outcomes of people living with mental illness. The Mental
Health Commission of Canada is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of
11 non-governmental directors, and seven who are appointed by Federal,
Provincial and Territorial governments as well as the Chair - the Honourable
Michael Kirby - who was appointed by the Government of Canada. The Board is
assisted in its work by eight Advisory Committees.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
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    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Micheal Pietrus, Director Information Services,
(403) 620-6154

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