Barry Lorenzetti is one of this city’s most engaged and straight-talking business and civic leaders. His company, BFL Canada, which employees close to 700 nationwide has steadfastly refused to move the head office of his company out of Montreal despite being this nation’s largest independent employee-owned insurance brokerage with offices in twelve cities from coast to coast. His message — to the public and private sectors — is a simple, yet profound, one: give everyone a stake and we’ll come out alright. It’s the way he’s always run things, and he believes — quite convincingly — that what has worked in private business will also work in the public arena. He delivers his message with clarity and candour regardless of forum. One can hardly go a couple of weeks without reading his views or hearing them at one important gathering or another. And whether it is in the pages of Le Devoir, La Presse or before the Board of Trade, his message is consistent and unwavering. Give all people dignity, treat them with equity and instill hope. And he’s backed his words up with actions.
His community involvements and philanthropy have contributed enormously to the life of this city. The young man from Ville Emard has become a renaissance man. He’s never forgotten his roots and the responsibility to give back. Lorenzetti is one of those business and community leaders who is always called upon to chair or co-chair one major public service drive after another. And he responds. You can bet that when Lorenzetti’s name is at the top of an invitation, the event will attract the best and the brightest and be a moral — as well as a material — success. But whatever he involves himself with, Barry Lorenzetti walks the talk. Now he has launched a new initiative to help some of the most vulnerable among us. It is perhaps his boldest and most heartfelt endeavour. It will help tens of thousands. And his decision resounds as a clarion call for all of us to rally to the standard he has raised
Barry has launched The Barry F. Lorenzetti Foundation with his son Justin at its head. Joelle Sholzberg is the executive director. The Foundation is committed to being in the vanguard of providing funding and solutions to attacking the scourge of mental health issues that seem to be growing each day resulting in ruined private lives. The Foundation’s goal is to bridge the gaps in governmental and institutional services. Gaps that are ever-widening and have become a crisis on the public agenda. The Foundation aims to make a difference by supporting grassroots initiatives, forging long-term national partnerships and positioning itself as a go-to leader and central ideas clearing-house for realizing mental health care initiatives.
The Foundation has already backed three major projects: as a national sponsor, it is providing funding for national anti-stigma mental health summits run by young people for social justice with HEADSTRONG, an evidence-based initiative created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada; it is enabling the local Montreal-based Head & Hands non-profit organization, which has been working with marginalized youth for almost 50 years, to double the amount of youth who receive free long-term talk therapy in both official languages; and it is providing funding to Quebec Veterans Foundation, which devotes its efforts to support the well-being of veterans at Saint Anne’s Veterans Hospital, with their Faces of Honour Exposition and Music Therapy Program.. The two major areas the Foundation will focus on at the outset will be youth mental health and military-related PTSD. The numbers are telling. Young people are more likely to experience mental health disorders than any other age group, but are severely underserved when it comes to mental health care. Canadian adults afflicted with mental illnesses point to symptoms emerging at an early age. In fact, 75% of mental health issues begin before the age of 25, and 50% develop between the ages of 12 and 25. With health services targeting either young children or adults, there is a critical gap weakening the system where it should be the strongest. Only 1 in 4 young people in the 12-25 age group actually get the help they need and the first point of contact for young people is often the hospital emergency room.
Military-related post-traumatic stress disorder is an area with a large unmet need that is unfortunately continuing to grow as military conflicts persist. And we’ve all been reading about in the news as governments cut veterans medical care funding and services. Canada today finds itself with an increasing amount of veterans, 9.2% of whom will suffer from PTSD. Many in their