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

COLUMNS: School reopening plan receives a failing grade

MLA Donna Barnett said the official opposition is demanding clarity

Williams Lake and District 4-H live auction takes place Monday, Aug. 10

District 4-H vice-president said he’s hopeful the community will show its support

Williams Lake RCMP investigating break and enter in Miocene

A large amount of items were stolen from a family home

Wheels in motion for mountain biking trail project near Clinton

Project to provide immediate employment while resulting in new trail on Jesmond Mountain

Williams Lake RCMP investigating break-in, crash, stolen vehicle

A single vehicle crash that knocked out hydro overnight being investigated as impaired driving

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic high-water levels that halted migration runs

B.C. marine ecologist wants Canada to sink its teeth into shark protection

Gulf Islands scientist says top predator under shocking threat from human behaviour

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read