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Mental Health Review Panel Transcription

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Letter

HAND DELIVERED

May 16, 2011

The Honourable Mr. Verlyn Olson, QC
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Alberta Legislature,
Edmonton, AB

Dr. Chris. Eagle, CEO, Alberta Health Services
Office of the President & CEO

Manulife Place
700 – 10180 101 Street,
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3S4

RE: ALBERTA MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW PANEL TRANSCRIPTION

The perceived intent of an Alberta Mental Health Review Panel hearing is to determine whether the human being before the panel should be given freedom or continue to be detained behind locked doors, stripped of all rights.

We submit that the present protocol of the review panels is unfair and cries out for change.

We are calling on Government to legislate that all Mental Health Review Panel hearings be recorded and transcribed. The proposed legislation should require that, a Certified Realtime Reporter be present in order to transcribe each and every hearing.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Reporter should make a copy of the certified transcription available to the formal patient, as soon as possible.

Relevant legislation allows review panel decisions to be appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, if no transcription is available, how can there be an ethical appeal?

Also, there must be an agenda, which outlines matters to be discussed. The agenda to be determined and approved by the formal patient and available to all when the hearing commences.

An agenda is necessary to identify the matter(s) to be dealt with by the panel such as:

  1. Cancellation of admission or renewal certificates;
  2. Review of a physician’s certificate (of mental incompetence);
  3. Orders for treatment to be administered to competent patients who object to treatment;
  4. Requests (from forensic patients) to return to a correctional facility.

Presently, this quasi -judicial hearing is not transcribed, no one is directed to take minutes. In their capacity as Officers of the court, the Chairmen of the review panels have a duty to ensure fairness in their perceived administration of justice.  The present protocol is a troubling “he said”, she said” process. There is no prepared agenda or even established direction, the result of which, would never stand up in a court of law.

Alberta citizens are being abused by this inequitable process. Seniors and others are being unlawfully detained. They are being denied freedom by a process that purports to give them a hearing. In fact, far too often, they are denied to participate, denied to address the panel to give testimony and are not being heard.

1998, Dorothy Joudrie, the high profile Calgary socialite detained in the Forensic unit of Alberta Hospital Edmonton reported, that despite having positive assessments by a psychologist, it took $450,000 and a skilled lawyer to get her past the same Mental Health Review Panel to freedom.

Thank you. We shall be awaiting your response and be grateful to be in receipt thereof by the1st of June 2011.

Elder Advocates of Alberta Society

cc.

The Honourable Mr. Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Health & Wellness,

The Honourable Ms. Mary Anne Jablonski, Minister of Seniors and Community Support

Letter

November 23, 2011

Via Facsimile 780 415 0961

Letter to follow.

The Honourable Mr. Fred Horne,

Minister of Health and Wellness,

# 208 Legislature Building,

10800 97 Avenue,

Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 2B6

THE PRESENT PROCESS DOES NOT PROVIDE JUSTICE

RE: ALBERTA MENTAL HEALTH REVIEW PANEL TRANSCRIPTION

The perceived intent of an Alberta Mental Health Review Panel hearing is to determine whether the human being before the panel should be given freedom or continue to be detained behind locked doors, stripped of all rights.

We submit that the present protocol of Review Panels is unfair and cries out for change.

We are calling on Government to legislate that all Mental Health Review Panel hearings be recorded and transcribed. The proposed legislation should require that, a Certified Realtime Reporter be present in order to transcribe each and every hearing.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Reporter should make a copy of the certified transcription available to the formal patient, as soon as possible.

Relevant legislation allows Review Panel decisions to be appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, if no transcription is available, how can there be an ethical appeal?

Presently, this quasi -judicial hearing is not transcribed, no one is directed to take minutes. In their capacity as Officers of the court, the Chairmen of the review panels have a duty to ensure fairness in their perceived administration of justice.  The present protocol is a troubling “he said”, she said” process. There is no prepared agenda or even established direction, the result of which, would never stand up in a court of law.

Alberta citizens are being abused by this inequitable process. Seniors and others are being unlawfully detained. They are being denied freedom by a process that purports to give them a hearing. In fact, far too often, they are denied to participate, denied to speak, to address the panel in order to give testimony. They are not being heard. And we have found that on occasion, the decision to detain the person, was made prior to the Hearing.

1998, Dorothy Joudrie, the high profile Calgary socialite detained in the Forensic unit of Alberta Hospital Edmonton reported, that despite having positive assessments by a psychologist, it took $450,000 and a skilled lawyer to get her past the same Mental Health Review Panel to freedom.

It is difficult to believe that this most important hearing is not being transcribed? After all, all court hearings are recorded and transcribed.

We urge you to speak up concerning the rights of these vulnerable, voiceless persons who are being detained behind locked doors.

We anticipate a response from those to whom this correspondence has been copied. We shall be awaiting your response and be grateful to be in receipt thereof by the 5th of December, 2011.

Yours truly,

Elder Advocates of Alberta Society

The Honourable Mr. Verlyn Olson, Minister of Justice & Attorney General

The Honourable Mr. George VanderBurg, Minister of Seniors and Community Support

Response

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