A local woman held against her will in hospital is taking the province to court for the right to have a lawyer to represent her in front of the Mental Health Review Board.
The woman known as Z.B. was denied one because the province is short on resources.
Z.B. is a 39-year-old homeless woman with mental health issues.
Lawyer Mark Underhill says it’s unacceptable that the province can’t provide legal aid.
“Go ahead on your own, face down your doctor and try to put down your case that you want to put forward or stay in hospital indefinitely until the fall when the Community Legal Assistance Society can get you a lawyer in October or November.”
Lack of resources leaves those in need unequipped
“It’s a compelling example of under-funding for legal aid and they cannot represent themselves in these hearings.”
Underhill is asking B.C. Supreme Court to provide a temporary lawyer for Z.B. for her review later this month. He says self-representation is a difficult task for anyone, but to expect someone with severe mental illness to take it on is absurd.
Significance of mental illness not understood
“Could the average person without a mental illness go before a tribunal, make out their case, argue against their own doctor in most cases. I think the answer would be ‘that’s tough on a lot of people’, but to think about someone doing that with a significant mental illness, I just think is ridiculous.”
He says the Community Legal Assistance Society has been underfunded and short of lawyers since 2009.