Generous man detained under Mental Health Act

Daughter claims police arrested her father because he gave away some extra money to strangers

Jim Day
Published on March 24, 2014

Bill MacNamara and June Bond pose for a photo with the their daughters Gabrielle (6 months) and Abigail (3). The couple received two $50 bills and two $5 coins randomly from a stranger.

©Metro News photo by Jeff Harper

A man reported to have given money away to strangers in Halifax last week was detained by police Thursday in Prince Edward Island under the Mental Health Act, says an RCMP spokeswoman.

Sgt. Leanne Butler told The Guardian police responded to a call for a wellness check at 1:30 p.m. Thursday for a mental health issue.

The officer determined the man should go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further assessment. Butler would not comment on what led the officer to make this determination.

The man was brought in to the hospital immediately and remains in the mental health unit.

The man's daughter posted a photo of her father on Facebook to call attention to what she says has been unfair treatment by the hospital and the RCMP.

She said her father was driving home to Charlottetown from Halifax on Thursday after sharing "some extra money'' with people when he was arrested and taken to the hospital where he has been forced to take medication and was not informed of his rights by police.

Butler stresses the man was not arrested but rather detained under the Mental Health Act.

"It's not a criminal issue," says Butler.

His daughter does not see it that way. In a lengthy post on The Guardian's Facebook wall, she wrote, "He did nothing illegal, he was simply helping some people out. Since when did being a nice person make you end up in the hospital?

"They think he is sick and has mental issues but I know he does not," she says in the post.

A Halifax newspaper had earlier reported on the man in question passing out money to people, telling them to "thank God'' and pass the money along if they didn't need it.

June Bond and Bill MacNamara told Metro News in Halifax how a man walked up to them while they were sitting on their Dartmouth porch on March 18 and handed them two $50 bills and two $5 coins. 

“You hear of random acts of kindness but it’s usually a Tim Horton’s coffee … you don’t get $100,” Bond told the newspaper. “It came at a time that we needed it too.”

The province would not comment specifically on the case but did acknowledge the public's interest in the man's story is high.

Pam Trainor, executive director of acute care wtih mental health and addictions for Health P.E.I., issued a statement on the subject.

"We appreciate the seriousness of this situation and the impact on our patient and their family...however, due to patient confidentiality and privacy, we cannot provide specifics related the patient, why they are under our care or what kind of care they are receiving,'' Trainor said in the statement.

"It is important for the public to understand that patients are admitted to our hospitals, programs and/or health care services because they can benefit from the care that we provide. A patient is always admitted at the clinical recommendation of a physician who has met with and assessed the patient to determine the most appropriate medical care to help that patient. In the case of mental health patients who may be admitted involuntarily (as they were assessed by two physicians to be of harm to themselves or others), there is a process, guided by the P.E.I. Mental Health  Act, to contest admission that the patient has a right to pursue."

Trainor adds that staff work hard every day to "provide the best care possible to patients and we remain confident in their ability to do so safely to support patients and their loved ones."

The man's daughter has said the family is looking into legal representation for him.

With files from Metro News