Imagining An Equality Promoting Alternative to the Status Quo of Canadian Mental Health Law

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Mental Health, Supreme Court of Canada, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Equality Guarantee, Human Dignity, Proposals for Law Reform


In thinking about pursuing equality for mental health consumers through legislation, the new statutes would be inspired, but not limited, by pronouncements from the Supreme Court of Canada. In the view of the Court, law can protect and advance human dignity, "the central purpose" of the Charter's equality guarantee, or law can harm it. Human dignity, as the Court has proclaimed, refers to the individual's "self-respect and self-worth", being "concerned with physical and psychological integrity and empowerment." The proposals which follow seek to enhance these aspirations, using laws "which are sensitive to the needs, capacities, and merits of different individuals, taking into account the context underlying their differences." The legislation which emerges as a function of priority being given to the equality dimension differs vastly from the present statutory environment.