Firm Member addresses Legislative Committee respecting Bill 122

November 25, 2015 - Toronto - Nearly a year after the landmark decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in P.S. v. Ontario that struck down the provisions of the Ontario Mental Health Act that permit potential indefinite civil detention, the Standing Committee on General Government is holding hearings into a bill aimed at closing the constitutional gap. Bill 122 or the Mental Health Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015 enhances the powers of the Consent and Capacity Board to require the rehabilitation and reintegration of patients detained in psychiatric facilities for longer than six months. It seeks to ensure that circumstances such as those faced by Mr. P.S., a pre-lingual deaf person held in hospital without access to adequate deaf language services for 19 years, are not repeated.

Bill 122 was introduced on September 23, 2015 and passed second reading before being referred to committee. At committee hearings held at the Ontario Legislature today, Karen Spector and Marshall Swadron made submissions on behalf of the Mental Health Legal Committee, which was granted standing as a friend of the court to intervene before the Court of Appeal in the P.S. case. The MHLC submission supported the government's move but identified significant shortcomings in the bill. Among the gaps in the Bill are the failure to ensure access to the CCB by persons considered "voluntary but certifiable" who are treated as voluntary patients, often for months or years, but who will be certified if they try to leave hospital.

The Court of Appeal suspended its declaration of invalidity for 12 months to permit the government to pass new legislation. That suspension expires on December 22, 2015. Committee hearings resume on November 30, 2015.

To read the transcript of today's proceedings before the Standing Committee on General Government, please click here. Mr. P.S. was represented in the Court of Appeal by former Swadron Associates lawyers Mercedes Perez and Karen Steward.