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The challenge of the Canada Act, 1982 to existing mental health legislation : implications for planning, mental health legislation and rights in Canada Geddes, Beatrice Ann


With the proclamation of the Canada Act, 1982 there has begun in Canada a questioning of legislation that is restrictive of human rights. Mental health legislation is an example of a restrictive act in that it defines procedures for enforced or compulsory treatment procedures that remove certain human rights. This study examines mental health legislation in the light of the challenge posed by the Charter of Rights and Freedom's entrenched in the Canada Act by using a descriptive analysis of legislation. Legislation in Canada, and mental health legislation in England and Canada are examined according to their administration and subject development. The mental health acts for five Canadian provinces are used for the sample. The framework of the study is that of a planner commencing with problem definition, analysis and resultant solutions or recommendations. The planner in this context advises on legislation, and on the implementation of legislation. From the analysis of the study it was found that legislation is interactive with the economic, technological and social value issues within society. For mental health it was noted that the legislation does not address health or treatment but rather compulsory treatment of individuals deemed to be "mentally disordered" and in need of treatment for their own or society's protection. As well, it was found that the label "mental disorder", defined differently in each province, results in the application of restrictions on an individual so defined, in the contents of other provincial acts. As Canadians are not asking for the removal of compulsory treatment procedures but for a recognition of rights and freedoms, this study makes recommendation to address the limiting items in mental health acts so that injustices in provincial statutes do not continue.

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