Ontario Court Puts 6-Month Limit on Mental Health Act Detentions

Rob Wipond
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In a precedent-setting decision in Canada, a provincial supreme court in Ontario has imposed a six-month limit on how long people can be incarcerated under mental health laws, reports the Toronto Star.

According to the Star, the case involved a deaf, mentally ill man, at one point diagnosed as a pedophile, who has been held at a maximum security psychiatric institution with little or no attention being paid to his identified needs for years at a time. “Despite repeated, increasingly adamant recommendations by psychiatrists and mental health experts that he be moved to a less secure facility — or even released into the community — the man has languished in Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care… for 19 years.”

“In a lengthy decision written on behalf of the court, Justice Robert Sharpe placed a six-month limit on a Mental Health Act detention. A 12-month suspension had been set on the change, giving the provincial government time to respond,” reports the Star. “The decision was made in part because the MHA board — officially called the Consent and Capacity Board — that decides who can be detained under the act does not have sufficient powers to ensure the well-being of someone held for a lengthy period.”

Court puts 6-month limit on detentions under Mental Health Act (The Toronto Star, December 23, 2014)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a Victoria, British Columbia-based freelance journalist who has been writing on mental health issues for fifteen years. His research has particularly focused on the interfaces between psychiatry, the justice system, and civil rights. His articles have been nominated for three Canadian National Magazine Awards, six Western Magazine Awards, and four Jack Webster Awards for journalism. He can be contacted through his website.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I think it’s safe to assume that everybody thinks child sexual abuse is one of the worst criminal offenses and that it is sicker than sick. But it seems hardly encouraging that it falls to those who get nothing about freedom and responsibility right to guide the legal process one more time. That only goes well if the actually most passionately committed to social justice have got themselves assigned and they go so far to make the right points about their own professional organizations’ continual abuses of power and zealous protection of their privileged access to the involuntary, paying customers that let them claim their authority and advertise their benevolence in one act. Not that it doesn’t sound like reason to believe something more good than bad will now be possible in this one instance, but if the idea is that abusing kids sexually is a disease, then it’s just time to gag again.

    Likewise, if there’s no attention to psychiatric misinformation and the ceaseless manipulations of their image to put new happy faces on coercion and call it nicer names, then the positive outcome is just part of the shadow play that keeps things the same until we get to hold onto our civil rights to death’s door.

    • It strikes me the man should have been tried in a court of law for the child abuse, not just held against his will, without proof he was a child molester. And the psychiatric practitioners are inconsistent when it comes to their belief in child abuse as a crime. Sometimes they “imprision” people without proof of child abuse. But my family’s medical records show they also cover up medical evidence of child sexual abuse by wealthy and / or well connected child molesters, by drugging up the victims. Perhaps the crimes of child sexual assault should be dealt with in the courts again?

      • I believe you are right all the way around, Someone Else, but haven’t seen the perspective in copycat’s link. I watched a video years ago that was run by Alabama prison system, and it was very strictly discussed as behavioral problems by a psychologist and no talk of mental illness at all. She was great, but I can’t ever locate it.