Com­plaint filed over dis­abil­ity sup­port

Mother claims dis­crim­i­na­tion against daugh­ter with men­tal ill­ness

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY RYAN ROSS THE GUARDIAN rross@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

Mil­lie King wants to get her daugh­ter help.

Laura King, Mil­lie’s daugh­ter, was di­ag­nosed with first episode psy­chosis in 2011.

It re­quired hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, med­i­ca­tion and long-term help to deal with Laura’s on­go­ing men­tal ill­ness.

But Mil­lie said when she tried to get long-term fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity for Laura through P.E.I.’s dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram, she found out it didn’t cover peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness.

On Tues­day, Mil­lie tes­ti­fied at a P.E.I. Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion panel hear­ing in Char­lot­te­town af­ter she filed a dis­crim­i­na­tion com­plaint against the pro­vin­cial govern­ment. “It felt wrong to me,” she said. Mil­lie filed her com­plaint on sev­eral grounds, in­clud­ing the ques­tion of whether or not ex­clud­ing men­tal ill­ness from the dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram is a vi­o­la­tion of the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms and P.E.I.’s Hu­man Rights Act.

She also ques­tioned if Laura faced dis­crim­i­na­tion in ac­cess­ing pro­grams through so­cial as­sis­tance, in get­ting sup­port­ive hous­ing and in her em­ploy­ment.

Mil­lie said she knew men­tal ill­ness would not al­ways be con­sid­ered a dis­abil­ity, but in her com­plaint she asked if there were times when it could be.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment had of­fered a set­tle­ment dur­ing the com­plaint process, but Mil­lie re­jected it with her lawyer say­ing at the hear­ing it was not seen as be­ing fair and rea­son­able.

De­tails of that set­tle­ment haven’t been dis­closed yet, but could come up dur­ing the hear­ing.

Mil­lie has ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness. As a reg­is­tered nurse, she has spent the last 15 years work­ing in men­tal health.

She told the hu­man rights panel she tried to man­age Laura’s ill­ness her­self and sought help from the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

Laura took part in an em­ploy­ment pro­gram that saw her work one hour a day.

She was on so­cial as­sis­tance, which clawed back some of her earn­ings.

For six months last year, Laura had her own apart­ment, but has since re­turned to liv­ing with her mother.

Mil­lie said get­ting Laura in­cluded in the dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram is her goal be­cause she felt so­cial as­sis­tance wasn’t de­signed for peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness and she needs long-term fi­nan­cial help.

“It didn’t seem like she was in the right pro­gram,” Mil­lie said.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues to­day.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Mil­lie King heads into a P.E.I. Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion panel hear­ing in Char­lot­te­town on Tues­day. King filed a com­plaint al­leg­ing her daugh­ter faced dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of her men­tal ill­ness.

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