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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Conception: good news for a collaborative forensic system

October 3, 2014 - Today, CAMH received the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the R. v. Conception case.  The case centered on the question of whether a hospital’s consent is required before a judge can order an accused person to CAMH for treatment, and into a bed that may not be available. CAMH argued that a hospital’s consent is necessary to ensure that the quality of care - including safety - can be maintained for all of our patients and for our staff. 

The Supreme Court affirmed the need for hospitals and their staff to maintain control over medical triage decisions in the timing of access to appropriate care. CAMH is gratified to see that the Supreme Court recognized the complex realities of delivering highly specialized mental health treatment in the face of finite resources.  

We believe that all sides in this case have the same goal:  helping people in our criminal justice system with mental illness have access to the specialized psychiatric care they need, as quickly as possible.  Since the case commenced, the health and judicial sectors have collaborated for improvement.  The result has been several positive changes to the forensic system and to CAMH forensic services.  

Psychiatric hospitals have created a priority admission system and have collaborated on a province-wide bed registry.  This will help us manage our beds for maximum efficiency. Psychiatric hospitals have received new resources from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to enhance our liaison services with the courts and we have expanded our capacity to do pretrial assessments on an outpatient basis. We have developed alternative care pathways and have more forensic inpatient capacity and more mental health services within the correctional system.  Waiting lists for forensic psychiatric hospital beds have been eliminated or dramatically reduced.

The Supreme Court decision entrenches the positive collaboration between the health and criminal justice systems.  CAMH looks forward to continuing our work to better serve the needs of patients who require forensic psychiatric services.

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About The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

Media Contact:
Kate Richards
Media Relations Specialist
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416 535-8501 ext. 36015 

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