B.C.’s mental health detention system violates charter rights: report

Community Legal Assistance Society calls for Mental Health Act overhaul

A report by the Community Legal Assistance Society is calling for an independent commission to overhaul the Mental Health Act, saying B.C.’s mental health detention system violates charter rights.

The report, released Wednesday by society lawyer Laura Johnston, said mental health detentions in B.C. have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, but the number of voluntary mental health admissions has remained virtually unchanged.

“Disturbing practices” within the provincial Mental Health Act are to blame, Johnston wrote, such as female patients routinely have their clothes removed by male staff, including security guards from private companies, and people in care being put in solitary confinement or involuntarily given treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy.

READ MORE: Justice reform tightens release rules for dangerously insane

The report also highlights what Johnston called “deep flaws” in the legal process for those detained, including the act of permiting indefinite detention with no mandatory periodic oversight, and a lack of independant legal aid for detainees specifically in regards to their detention.

“Our mental health system is increasingly interacting with people with mental health problems in an adversarial way by removing their rights, rather than in a voluntary way that promotes autonomy and collaboration in the recovery process,” Johnston said in a news release. “We need to ask why and take a hard look at what is going on in this detention system.”

The report calls on the ministries of health and mental health and addictions to create an independent law reform commission to overhaul the Mental Health Act – a practice Johnston said is already underway in other provinces.

“B.C.’s mental health detention system has been operating in darkness for too long,” she said.

The province has not yet commented.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Consumer bankruptcies down in Greater Victoria

More residents are making alternative arrangements to settle their debts

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Homes fit for royals for sale in North Saanich

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have returned to Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Activists want Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demands to be upheld, observed and respected

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read