The P.E.I. government is appealing a supreme court decision in a class-action lawsuit related to disability supports for people with mental illness.
That lawsuit began with plaintiffs Laura King and Nathan Dawson filing a statement of claim alleging the P.E.I. government breached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by denying disability support benefits to people with mental illness.
They also sought to have the matter proceed as a class action that would include all living people currently or formerly resident of P.E.I. since Oct. 1, 2001 who claim to suffer or have suffered from a mental disability.
A class-action lawsuit is initiated by one or more people on behalf of a larger group.
P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Cann wrote in a May 2019 decision that he was satisfied the requirements to have the lawsuit proceed as a class action were met.
The notice of appeal filed with the P.E.I. Court of Appeal in December sought to have Cann’s order set aside on several grounds, including that he erred in determining a class proceeding is the preferred procedure for the determination of the claim.
It also said Cann erred in defining the class too broadly.
Some of the grounds for appeal dealt with costs Cann awarded to King and Dawson after their successful motion for certification.
King has been involved with the fight for inclusion of people with mental illness in the province’s disability support program for several years and was part of a complaint that saw a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission panel rule the program was discriminatory.
That ruling was in 2016 when the panel ordered the government to pay King $15,000 in damages and $16,000 in costs.
After the commission’s decision, the government sought a judicial review and the matter eventually ended up before the P.E.I. Court of Appeal, which upheld the panel’s decision.
Since that human rights panel decision, the provincial government expanded and renamed its disability support program.
The latest appeal seeks to have the motion for certification dismissed or have it sent back to the supreme court for further consideration.
In the alternative, the appeal seeks to change the class definition, including limiting the applicable timeframe to when the former disability support program ended.