In 1996, following the elimination of 130 beds at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and in an attempt to transform “a service model based on hospitals into a community-based organisational model”[1], several key decision-makers from the Health and Social Services Network chose to dedicate the funds liberated by these closings to the implementation of a regional employment integration project.

Between 1997 and 1998, numerous studies, consultations and collaboration projects took place. Stakeholders and representatives from various sectors (community, institutional, government and service users) participated. Through these works, we were able to meet the socio-professional integration needs of people living with severe mental disorders.

We then decided to put into place a mental health-focused social enterprise with the goal of:  

In order to ensure job stability, the company operates in a viable economic sector. To diversify its range of services, ESSM must push beyond well-known niche markets by choosing economic sectors uncharted by existing socio-economic or insertion-focused enterprises.

In November 1999, Collection Innova, a manufacturer of adaptive garments for people suffering from a loss of independence was established in East Montreal.

The organisational structure put into place needed to allow and to honour its social mission, which is to promote access to workers with severe mental health problems.

[1] Action plan for the transformation of mental health services. The Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, Communications Branch. 1998.