August 15, 2016
A B.C. woman detained against her will under the Mental Health Act has filed a legal challenge to get the government to provide her with a legal-aid lawyer.
The 39-year-old woman, identified only as Z.B., is challenging her doctor’s decision to keep her in a hospital psychiatric ward in a mental health review panel hearing scheduled for Aug. 23.
Z.B. is homeless and receives CPP disability payments of $500 a month. She qualifies for legal aid representation, yet her request for a lawyer was denied because the Community Legal Assistance Society, the organization contracted by the Legal Services Society to provide mental health legal aid in the province, did not have the funding to provide her with a lawyer.
“The government has detained her against her will, and she has the right to a fair hearing,” said lead counsel Mark Underhill, who was retained by the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre to represent Z.B. “In her case, there is no serious question that she requires legal representation to have any chance at a fair hearing.”