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Mental Health and Addiction legislation

Mental Health Act 1990

The Mental Health Act sets out the criteria for voluntary, informal and involuntary admissions to specially designated psychiatric facilities, as well as for the management of psychiatric out-patients under Community Treatment Orders (CTO). The statute also requires the assessment of psychiatric patients’ capacity to manage property following their admission to a psychiatric facility. The statute protects the rights of psychiatric patients by requiring that patients receive formal rights advice in certain circumstances and providing for the review of informal and involuntary admissions, capacity to manage property and CTOs before the Consent and Capacity Board.

Brian’s Law (Bill 68)

Brian’s Law amended the Mental Health Act in 2000. In particular, this legislation introduced community treatment orders and new criteria for involuntary commitment to psychiatric facilities. The latest amendment took place in 2010 under Bill 16, Creating the Foundation for Jobs and Growth Act, 2010.

Health Care Consent Act 1996 (amended 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010)

The Health Care Consent Act deals with

  • guidelines for informed consent for treatment, personal care services or admission to a long-term care facility
  • the roles and responsibilities of substitute decision-makers

Regulated Health Professionals Act

The Regulated Health Professions Act:

  • regulates 23 health professions, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and psychologists
  • establishes regulatory bodies to govern and hold professionals accountable

Regulated Health Professions Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009

The Regulated Health Professions Statute Law Amendment Act amends or repeals more than one Act related to regulated health professions. For the legislative history of these Acts, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at

The Health System Improvements Act (2007)

The Health System Improvements Act, 2007 (formerly Bill 171) became law on May 31, 2007. It affects many other acts, including the Regulated Health Professions Act.

The Health System Improvements Act deals with:

  • the creation of a college of psychotherapy to regulate the practice of psychotherapy and set standards of practice
  • who can refer to themselves as a “psychotherapist” and “registered mental health therapist” in Ontario
    the practice of psychotherapy as a controlled act, legally deliverable only by those registered in the
  • Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, or the new College of Psychotherapy. The Act will allow social workers to practice psychotherapy, although this part of the Act has not yet taken effect.
  • the “harm clause” in the Regulated Health Professions Act, expanding it to protect patients from serious bodily harm, which would include “psychological harm” when receiving health treatment or advice

Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 (last amended 2009)

The Substitute Decisions Act deals with:

  • powers of attorney
  • guardianship

Related Resources

A Practical Guide to Mental Health and the Law in Ontario (October 2012) was prepared by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP for the Ontario Hospital Association.

Open Minds, Healthy Minds is Ontario’s first Mental health and addiction strategy. It offers a comprehensive approach to transforming the mental health system.

National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
This voluntary standard provides employers with a framework on how to foster psychologically safe and healthy work environments.

Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act, 2012
An Act which recognizes suicide as a mental health and public health issue in which the Government of Canada is responsible for guidelines, public education and promotion of best practices.