Mental health groups call for collaboration with government and victims
groups to amend bill that is "too important to rush"
OTTAWA, May 7, 2013 /CNW/ - While Canadians mark Mental Health Week, the
government's Bill C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, is moving forward with fundamental flaws that will set back progress
made in understanding mental health and mental illness, an alliance of
national mental health organizations warned today.
"We understand the need to protect Canadians from individuals who commit
violent crimes," said Chris Summerville, Alliance Facilitator and CEO
of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada at a news conference on
Parliament Hill. "However, this bill, as it is currently written, will
not do this. What this bill has done is tell Canadians that they
should be afraid of people with a mental illness."
Summerville added the vast majority of people with a mental illness will
never commit any type of crime, let alone a serious one, and that
recidivism rates of individuals found not criminally responsible on
account of a mental disorder are much lower than rates among
individuals found guilty of a crime.
"The mental health community in Canada has made important strides in
reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. We are concerned
that in its present form, Bill C-54 will negatively impact the lives of
people found Not Criminally Responsible on account of a Mental Disorder
and unjustifiably increase the stigma towards people with mental
illness," said Peter Coleridge, National CEO, Canadian Mental Health
Association. "Too many elements of the bill are simply not evidence
based and will not result in the changes that Canadians and victims
would like to see from such a bill. This issue is much too important to
"The mental health community was not part of the creation of Bill C-54,"
said Dr. Paul Fedoroff, Member Board of Directors, Canadian Psychiatric
Association and President, Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
"Today, during Mental Health Week, we publicly offer not only to work
with the government in creating an effective bill, but to also work
with victims groups. We are confident that Canadians expect their
government to work with the mental health community in crafting a bill
that effectively and fairly deals with people with mental disorders in
a way that serves everyone's interests."
The government's Bill C-54 proposes amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with restrictions for people found not criminally responsible
on account of a mental disorder. Given the significance of passing
such changes, Canada's mental health community has come together to
form a working alliance in an effort to strengthen their voice on this
critical matter, which is of vital importance to the mental health
community and understanding mental illness. The alliance includes:
Mood Disorders Society of Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
Canadian Association of Social Workers
National Network for Mental Health
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Canadian Psychological Association
Schizophrenia Society of Canada (representing all Schizophrenia
SOURCE: Schizophrenia Society of Canada
For further information:
For more information or to book interviews, contact:
Alliance Facilitator and Chief Executive Offer, Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Office: (204) 786-1616
Mobile: (204) 223-9158
Office: (613) 786-9976
Mobile: (613) 314-3048