Nova Scotia

Elizabeth Fry says Nova Scotia failing people with mental illness

A national group that advocates for women involved with the criminal justice system says Nova Scotia is keeping people in mental health institutions unnecessarily.

3 people living in institutions filed a human rights complaint

The human rights case is expected to go ahead in the new year. (Reuters)

A national group that advocates for women involved with the criminal justice system says Nova Scotia is keeping people in mental health institutions unnecessarily.

The Elizabeth Fry Society is recognized as an aggrieved party in connection to a human rights complaint filed in Nova Scotia.

Three women who are living in mental health institutions want to be released to live in the community. Each has been institutionalized for more than ten years.

Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, says her organization got involved  in their case because more outpatient services and housing needs to be made available.  

"The idea that we'd be basically relegating people to institutions when virtually everybody concerned with them recognizes they could be in the community, I think is a travesty. It should not be happening in a country as rich as Canada,” she said.

Pate hopes the human rights case will force the province to make changes. 

"The last place we want to see more people ending up, because it's the only place that can't refuse them, are prison settings or even secure psychiatric hospitals and yet that's increasingly who is being left to deal with these issues because so many of the community supports through social services and health services have been cut," she said.

Ken Scott, the director of mental health in Nova Scotia's Health Department, says his department is making changes so it can help people faster.

"We've put over a million dollars a year into community grants for community agencies who are supporting people with mental illness and addiction. We've started a peer support program that will help support people who are in communities and transitioning from hospital communities,” he said.

The case is expected to go before the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in the new year. 

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