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

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Northwest Regional Airport says ridership extremely low amid COVID-19

The airport has enacted enhanced sanitary measures and reduced flights

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Most Read