Dykeman speaks at Advocates' Society Fall Convention

Health-care issues, including mental-health issues, affect everyone – whether it's a family member, co-worker, client, someone appearing before a judge or someone self-representing in many types of proceedings, Toronto health lawyer Mary Jane Dykeman told The Advocates' Society at its recent fall convention in Mexico.

Dykeman, partner at Dykeman Dewhirst O’Brien LLP, delivered a primer on the Health Care Consent Act and Mental Health Act to an audience primarily made up of litigators and some judges. She spoke about these important pieces of legislation and the circumstances in which a person may fall under the jurisdiction of each law, the reduction of stigma, as well as the impact of mental illness on courts and tribunals.

Dykeman spoke on a mental-health panel with Dr. Hy Bloom, a forensic psychiatrist with The Psilex Group who is a seasoned expert witness and Jamie Cameron, an Osgoode Hall Law School professor who spoke about the Ontario Review Board and recent legislative amendments to the mental disorder provisions of the Criminal Code.

Dykeman noted that the Health Care Consent Act applies in all health-care settings – including physicians' offices, hospitals, psychiatric facilities and long-term care homes – and sets out frameworks for treatment, personal assistance services and admission to long-term care. The Mental Health Act applies primarily to psychiatric facilities, but since 2000, it also enshrines community treatment orders and creates an expanded ability to pull someone under the act through special criteria.

Dykeman describes the fall convention as "excellent," a conference that offered a variety of sessions with broad appeal. The event attracted a collegial group, including former Chief Justice of Ontario Roy McMurtry, who signed copies of his memoir, Janet Minor, Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada who updated attendees on key initiatives of that body, and Bob Rae, a lawyer and former premier of Ontario, who was the keynote speaker at the Saturday session.

The Advocates' Society was established in 1963 to ensure the presence of a courageous and independent bar and the maintenance of the role of the advocate in the administration of justice, says its website.

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