668 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
delivers its verbal determination within half an hour after the conclusion of
evidence and submissions). Written reasons must be issued no later than 14
days after the delivery of the determination to the parties.
Applicants for detention review are persons diagnosed with mental disorders.
Sometimes they are also children, or they have intellectual disabilities,
too. The Act and regulations refer to applicants as “patients”, because
they are being treated in an acute care facility or through a hospital or community
care clinic in the community.
The Chinese word for crisis ( ) is often (albeit incorrectly) said to be
composed of two Chinese characters signifying “danger” and “opportunity”.
During COVID-19, the Board has faced, and competently dealt with, a crisis:
the obligation to promptly fulfill its time-sensitive obligations by responding
to requests for detention review from applicants who are some of the
most vulnerable persons in British Columbia.
WHO IS A PATIENT?
The word “patient”, with French and Latin origins, means “I who suffer” or
“I am suffering”. I cannot give enough emphasis to the truth that, for Board
hearings to be conducted effectively in accordance with the law of Canada
and the values of applicable United Nations conventions and declarations,
all participants must keep this reality foremost in their minds.
And we must also, at the same time, remember that when one person is
suffering, those close to the sufferer will also be suffering to some extent,
and even to a great extent. This includes family members and other witnesses,
members of the psychiatric treatment team who are striving mightily
to relieve the person’s pain, and panel members who listen to sometimes
tragic evidence that accompanies issues involving serious mental disorder.
Suffering must be kept to a minimum, which means that Board hearings
need to be efficient and conducted in a way that is as painless as possible
for all concerned.
Regularly, although the Community Legal Assistance Society (“CLAS”)
provides free advocacy through its Mental Health Law Program (“MHLP”),
applicants for detention review choose to self-represent (which, practically
speaking, too often means they are unrepresented). With my background of
over 30 years as a decision maker in various administrative tribunals, I
know that hearings involving self-represented parties pose the greatest
challenges for decision makers. Every decision maker knows it is much easier
to conduct a respectful, fair hearing when experienced legal counsel,
who know the law and rules of procedural fairness, are involved as advocates
for the parties.