P.E.I.'s Human Rights Commission in Charlottetown is hearing a mother's allegation the provincial government is discriminating against her 24-year-old daughter, who has schizophrenia. 

A panel of three human rights commissioners has been hearing the emotional case for two days.     

'This problem is much bigger than my own daughter.' — Millie King

Millie King, a mental health nurse, says the province denied her daughter help through the disability support program.

"It's just devastating," said King.

"If we hadn't had the support of family and friends, co-workers along the way, I don't know how we would've survived, really, because there's been a lot of doors shut," she said.

King's daughter receives about $300 per month in social assistance benefits from the province, but the family was seeking long-term financial assistance for housing — a place for her daughter to live independently with extra care provided.

P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel

This P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel is hearing Millie King's complaint of discrimination. (CBC)

King said she was told her daughter doesn't qualify because the disability support program is only for Islanders with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The Kings allege that is discrimination and made a formal complaint to the commission.

"This problem is much bigger than my own daughter. This is a huge problem and I'd be so very pleased if that could change," said King. She wants the province to recognize mental illness as a disability.

Mental health support needed

On Thursday, Reid Burke from the P.E.I. branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association testified everyone can, to a degree, recover from mental illness, and the disability support program is only for people who can't work because they will never recover.

Burke says his organization provides support and said King's daughter was part of its programs and she did get help finding her own apartment.

However, King said that living situation didn't have the support she needed, so her daughter had to move back home. 

Burke testified that labelling those with mental illness as disabled is wrong, because he says those with mental illness can recover with the right supports in place.

The province will call its witnesses to testify when the hearing resumes Friday. It's scheduled to last three days, but could go longer. 

The government has offered the family an undisclosed settlement, which they refused.

With files from Patrick Faller