PEI

P.E.I. lawsuit aims to force disability payments for mental illness

Two Prince Edward Islanders have filed a proposed class action against the Government of P.E.I., saying their mental illness should qualify them for funding under the province's Disability Supports Program.

Proposed class action claims mental illness should qualify under P.E.I.'s Disability Supports Program

The proposed class action lawsuit aims to secure disability support for people with disabilities caused by mental illness. (CBC)

Two Prince Edward Islanders have filed a proposed class action against the Government of P.E.I., saying their mental illness should qualify them for funding under the province's Disability Supports Program.

Laura King and Nathan Dawson are the plaintiffs in the proposed class action. The statement of claim says the province's Disability Supports Program excludes people with mental illness, and that this is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The statement of claim says both of the plaintiffs have been diagnosed with a disabling mental illness, and that they could fairly represent an identifiable class.

The statement of claim says the government didn't include people with disabilities in stakeholder meetings in the lead-up to the implementation of the program in 2001.

Claim follows P.E.I. Human Rights Commission ruling

It also says the Canadian Mental Health Association asked the province for a comprehensive review of the program in 2013, which it claims hasn't been done.

In March, the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission did find it was discriminatory to exclude people with a disability caused by mental illness from the Disability Supports Program. That decision ordered the province to change the program to include people with disabilities caused by mental illness.

The claim is supported by the P.E.I. Psychiatric Association.

"The patients we treat are often severely disabled by their psychiatric illnesses," said Dr. Robert Jay in a news release.

"For the provincial government to refuse them funding and programming available to others with disabilities, either physical or intellectual disabilities, is clearly discriminatory, as the human rights tribunal has already ruled, and must not be allowed to continue."

The P.E.I. government told CBC News the Attorney General had not yet received notice of the class action suit. It said the judicial review of the Human Rights Tribunal Decision on the Disability Support Program is still ongoing.

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