The Dementia Justice Society of Canada applauds the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) for its report, "Operating in Darkness," which identifies British Columbia's mental health detention and involuntary psychiatric treatment system as the most regressive in Canada.
The report, written by lawyer Laura Johnston, highlights a number of deep flaws in B.C.'s Mental Health Act: "Once detained in the BC mental health system, the detaining facility controls virtually every aspect of your life and your body. You can be denied access to a phone or the internet. You can be denied visitors or the right to go outside for fresh air. Your clothing can be removed by force from your body and you can be denied access to your own clothes. You can be forcibly administered psychiatric treatment, including injections and Electroconvulsive Therapy. You can be placed in mechanical restraints that tie you to your bed. You can be put in seclusion."
The report also expresses concern that the Mental Health Act is being used to detain individuals in an increasing variety of situations. Notably, there are reports of "an increasing number of seniors with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or physical health care problems who were detained not for mental health treatment, but because of concerns that they needed supports or services that were not available in their home environment."
CLAS proposes a clear course of action that the provincial government should take, including establishing an independent law reform commission to overhaul the draconian legislation.
Dementia Justice looks forward to the B.C. Government amending the outdated Mental Health Act so it aligns with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international human rights law.
The full report is available on the CLAS website.
About Dementia Justice
Dementia Justice is a federally incorporated non-profit society dedicated to advancing the rights, needs and dignity of people with dementia who are, or are at risk of becoming, involved with the criminal justice system. We aim to achieve our objectives through public advocacy, awareness-raising, education, and interdisciplinary legal and policy research.