This case is about the ability of a public interest organization to bring forward a constitutional challenge to BC’s mental health regime.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (“CCD”) and two individuals who had been detained involuntarily under the Mental Health Act filed a Charter challenge regarding BC’s mental health regime.
As the case entered its second year, the two individuals were no longer able or willing to continue as plaintiffs in the case.
The case is about whether the CCD can bring the case on its own, without the individual plaintiffs.
For a great summary of the case, check out the website of CLAS (Community Legal Assistance Society).
West Coast LEAF’s Involvement
On April 9, 2019, West Coast LEAF was granted leave to intervene.
We argued that public interest litigants promote access to justice in cases where people directly affected by unjust laws are not in a position to challenge those laws themselves. Public interest litigation helps make sure that all laws can be examined to determine whether they are constitutional. Justice is not served when laws that violate the rights and freedoms of marginalized groups are disproportionately excluded from scrutiny.
West Coast LEAF filed its written argument on April 29, 2019. The hearing took place on May 31, 2019. In a decision released on August 26, 2020, the BC Court of Appeal unanimously found that courts must remain flexible and generous about allowing public interest organizations like West Coast LEAF to challenge unconstitutional laws on behalf of community members.
In April 2021. the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear an appeal of this decision by the Province. West Coast LEAF will be seeking leave to intervene in the appeal, so that we can continue to advocate for the access to justice rights of people who are dealing with high levels of social and economic marginalization.