Ottawa, April 14, 2014 - Eleven national health organizations
opposed to the Not Criminally Responsible
Reform Act expressed their disappointment in the legislative process that
has allowed a bill to pass that could jeopardize public safety, limit recovery
for victims, and cause harm to people living with a mental illness.
In February 2013, the Conservative
Government introduced the Not Criminally Responsible
Reform Act that was intended to enhance victims’ rights, ensure public
safety is the paramount concern, and create a new “high risk accused” category
within the Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) regime. While enhancing victims’ rights and
protecting the public isvery importantto Canada’s mental health community, the
Bill does neither.
“The unnecessary and highly stigmatizing
‘high risk accused’ category is based on no evidence and encourages Canadians
to be afraid of people living with a mental illness”, said Dr. Sandy Simpson, Chief of
Forensic Psychiatry at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). “While previous crimes may be
an indicator of future crimes in the criminal system, this is not the case for
people found NCR. This unjust category
may result in people with serious mental illness, who are in fact NCR, going to
jail instead of a health facility where their needs, and society’s, would be
The mental health community was not
consulted during the creation of the Bill.
Past and present Justice Ministers Nicholson and
MacKay both declined to meet with the organizations in person. Highly respected research that supported
concerns around the Bill was dismissed.
The Conservative government argued the Bill would not stigmatize people
living with a mental illness, however, the mental health organizations that
represent millions of people in Canada living with a mental illness, and their
families, wholeheartedly disagree.
“Mental illness can be complex and
difficult to understand for many Canadians.
Leaders and decision-makers have a responsibility to help educate and
advance our societyrather than perpetuate fear from that lack of
understanding. Although this Bill falls
far short of meeting its intended goals and the needs of Canadians, the mental
health community is fully dedicated to working with government and other
stakeholders to address the impact of the Bill’s changes. To do so, we need to be guided by evidence of
what works for victims, persons found NCR and the Canadian public.” said Chris
Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.
Victims themselves have also indicated their
support in repairing the damage. “As a
mother of a 2 ½ year-old son who was brutally murdered by a person found NCR, I
find Bill C-14 extremely offensive” said psychologist, Dr. Lori
Triano-Antidormi. “Labeling particular
individuals with a mental illness as high risk will not assist victims in their
healing and recovery. Victims deserve
of the National Health Coalition Opposed to the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act:
Canadian Association for Suicide
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Nurses Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Mood Disorders Society of Canada
National Network for Mental Health
Peer Development Initiative
Schizophrenia Society of Canada
For media inquiries, please
contact Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada at:
204.223.9158 or firstname.lastname@example.org.