CLAS believes that people with mental illness have the right to participate meaningfully in their own treatment and recovery. However, British Columbia’s mental health laws deprive all involuntary patients — including patients living in the community and those actually detained — of the right to give, refuse, or revoke consent to psychiatric treatment, regardless of their actual capability to do so. BC’s laws also prevent involuntary patients from having someone they trust, such as a representative, family member, or friend, support them with a treatment decision or make a treatment decision on their behalf.
On September 12, 2016, CLAS launched a challenge on behalf of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and two individuals being treated against their will, arguing that British Columbia’s mental health laws deprive involuntary patients of their Charter right to equality and to life, liberty, and security of the person.
BC’s laws allow capable adults to be forcibly given psychiatric treatment, including psychotropic medication or electroconvulsive therapy, against their will. Doctors are not even required to assess whether the adult is capable of consenting to treatment. BC is the only province in Canada that deems all involuntary patients to consent to any psychiatric treatment proposed by their doctors.
BC’s mental health laws deprive involuntary patients of the health care consent rights and protections enjoyed by others in society, and most fundamentally the right to control what is done to their own bodies.
The plaintiffs in this case are represented by CLAS lawyers Kevin Love and Laura Johnston, along with Michael Feder and Emily MacKinnon from McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
Click here to read the response to civil claim (November 2016)
Click here to read the reply (December 2016)