A Saskatoon woman whose 16-year-old daughter died of a drug overdose says parents need more power to impose treatment on children with addictions.
Carla Fenton Katchmar is circulating a petition, hoping to gather support for having the government toughen the law on forced treatment.
Chantaey Katchmar, 16, died in June after taking a lethal overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol.
"I felt I failed when she walked away," her mother told CBC News in a recent interview. "I can't go back, so I have to move forward and honour her."
Fenton Katchmar said her daughter's problem with drugs and alcohol started when Chantaey was about 13. The teen experimented with ecstasy and progressed to more powerful drugs that quickly became an addiction.
"The drugs had such control of her," Fenton Katchmar said. "The fear of her leaving those drugs and feeling that pain was just too much for her to take."
She said she tried to get her daughter to stick with several treatment programs, without success.
She then went to court, twice, to obtain a judicial order that would force Chantaey into treatment.
However, she said those programs were very short — barely two weeks long — and Chantaey was allowed to leave without completing them.
"She needed us ... to put her in a locked facility for a year," Fenton Katchmar said. "It takes six months at least, just to clean yourself out of cocaine and that."
She is calling for stronger laws that parents can use to keep a child in a treatment program.
Currently, only a court may force a child into a treatment program and that must be supported by two physicians.
The Youth Drug and Detox Stabilization Act applies to children under the age of 18. It says a youth may be held involuntarily for up to five days and the order can be renewed twice, resulting in a maximum of 15 days of forced care per order.
A parent may apply for such an order as frequently as they like, but each request for an order must go before a judge.
A provincial health official told CBC News the existing system attempts to balance concerns of parents with the rights of patients.
"I think the current legislation meets a really nice balance between the concerns folks have when they use the legislation and the individual rights," Kathy Willerth, director of mental health addictions for Saskatchewan Health, said.
But Fenton Katchmar plans to press on with her petition, convinced that a tougher system could help other parents facing the same challenges she did.