Recovery from mental illness requires more support on P.E.I.

Ryan Ross
Published on January 14, 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

Human rights hearing continues for second day in discrimination complaint against provincial government

Mental illness can be disabling, but people do get better, says a spokesman for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Reid Burke, executive director of the group's P.E.I. division, said for that to happen people need support in order to recover.

"No question," he said.

Burke testified yesterday during the second day of a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel hearing in Charlottetown into a discrimination complaint against the provincial government.

Millie King represented her daughter, Laura King, at the hearing.

Laura has schizophrenia and was initially diagnosed with a form of psychosis in 2011.

Since that diagnosis she and her mother have been trying to get her support through the province's disability support program, but it doesn't cover people with mental illness.

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

Burke told the panel the disability support program doesn't address the complexities of mental illness.

It would be a problem to include people with mental illness in a system not designed for them, he said.

Millie also continued her testimony yesterday, and the hearing was closed to the public briefly while personal details of Laura's illness were discussed.

As part of her testimony, Millie discussed a response sent to the province earlier this month about remedies sought to resolve the complaint.

Included in that response was a request for $10,000 to cover costs for Millie and Laura to move to Ontario.

In Ontario, Laura would apply to that province's disability support program, which Millie said takes about three to six months to get accepted.

During that time, Laura sought $1,000 per month until she is accepted.

Millie also sought wages and benefits until she turns 65 or secures comparable employment in Ontario to what she has in P.E.I. as a nurse.

The response also sought $100,000 for hurt and humiliation.

Laura's initial human rights complaint sought $1.4 million from the province, but Millie said she wasn't well at that point and since sent an apology letter to the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.

During Millie's testimony, the panel heard social assistance pays Laura about $300 a month for food, clothing, household personal items and travel while the two live together.

On the stand, Millie, who works in mental health for the province, said a human rights complaint wasn't her first choice and she felt like she was being disloyal to her employer.

"Actually, for me it has been just heartbreaking," she said.