Mother claims discrimination on P.E.I. against mentally ill daughter

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 13, 2016

Millie King heads into a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel hearing in Charlottetown in January 2015. King filed a complaint alleging her daughter faced discrimination because of her mental illness.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

Millie King now appearing at P.E.I. Human Rights Commission to plead for her daughter's disability support

Millie King wants to get her daughter help.

Laura King, Millie’s daughter, was diagnosed with first episode psychosis in 2011.

It required hospitalization, medication and long-term help to deal with Laura’s ongoing mental illness.

King said when she tried to get long-term financial stability for Laura through P.E.I.’s disability support program, she found out it didn’t cover people with mental illness.

FACTS: Some symptoms of psychosis

On Tuesday, Millie testified at a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel hearing in Charlottetown after she filed a discrimination complaint against the provincial government.

“It felt wrong to me,” she said.

Millie filed her complaint on several grounds, including the question of whether or not excluding mental illness from the disability support program is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and P.E.I.’s Human Rights Act.

She also questioned if Laura faced discrimination in accessing programs through social assistance, in getting supportive housing and in her employment.

Millie said she knew mental illness would not always be considered a disability, but in her complaint she asked if there were times when it could be.

The provincial government had offered a settlement during the complaint process, but Millie rejected it with her lawyer saying at the hearing it was not seen as being fair and reasonable.

Details of that settlement haven’t been disclosed yet, but could come up during the hearing.

Millie has experience dealing with people with mental illness. As a registered nurse, she has spent the last 15 years working in mental health.

She told the human rights panel she tried to manage Laura’s illness herself and sought help from the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Laura took part in an employment program that saw her work one hour a day.

She was on social assistance, which clawed back some of her earnings.

For six months last year, Laura had her own apartment, but has since returned to living with her mother.

Millie said getting Laura included in the disability support program is her goal because she felt social assistance wasn’t designed for people with mental illness and she needs long-term financial help.

“It didn’t seem like she was in the right program,” Millie said.

The hearing continues Thursday.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/ryanrross

Some of the symptoms of psychosis:

- Confused thoughts

- Delusions

- Hallucinations

- Mood swings

- Behaviour changes