A new report providing comprehensive overview of designated mental health courts in Ontario is now available. Released by the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC), Mental Health Courts in Ontario: A Review of the Initiation and Operation of Mental Health Courts Across the Province highlights the similarities and differences of mental health courts across Ontario.
Mental health courts in Ontario have an informally shared mandate to address the needs of people with mental health issues entering the criminal justice system. These specialized courts are not specifically regulated in their operation. With no existing ministerial mandate to determine where they should exist and how they should function, they operate on an ad hoc basis.
Increasing attention from many government bodies on the importance of addressing mental health issues led to the initiation of this project by the Provincial HSJCC, with support from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario. The project involved a survey of designated mental health courts across the province and concluded with a Forum, jointly hosted by the Provincial HSJCC, CMHA Ontario and the Ministries of the Attorney General and Health and Long-Term Care, to facilitate a dialogue among a cross-section of stakeholders.
The report presents the findings of the Provincial HSJCC Mental Health Courts Project and outcomes of the Forum. It is the culmination of almost three years of data collection and input from various stakeholders. It is a cursory overview of how many designated mental health courts currently exist in Ontario, how they operate, and any similarities or differences that they may have.