Last Thursday marked the 11th anniversary of Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” day. The campaign, which is promoted as a way to get people talking about mental health issues, sees the corporate behemoth donating money to health organizations for every social media mention that uses the #BellLetsTalk hashtag. As of the latest numbers, the promotion has seen well over $100 million donated to mental health groups across Canada, including those that support children and youth, Indigenous communities and military families.
The initiative has not been without its critics. There is no small number of pundits out there who see this as a particularly onerous example of corporate Canada benefiting from the suffering of others.
However, this is not the only criticism lobbed into Bell’s lap. Last year, criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt went public with his views on how Bell was profiting off prison inmates. The company holds exclusive rights to the phone systems in Ontario jails, and charges what critics see as exorbitant user fees. According to Spratt, this inhibits the ability of inmates to speak with family members or receive counselling, neither of which is particularly conducive to improving mental wellness. This seems particularly onerous, considering struggles with mental health issues were probably a key factor for why many of those self same individuals wound up behind bars in the first place.
Read Grant Frost’s full article: The Guardian