Patients stuck at Halifax forensic hospital for years, rights inquiry told

A human rights inquiry has been told that some patients who had been conditionally released from a Halifax forensic hospital weren't allowed to leave because they were stuck on waiting lists for up to six years for a supported community home.

The East Coast Forensic Hospital primarily houses adults who have committed crimes, but have been found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, or NCR.

Statistician Patryk Simon testified today at a human rights hearing on housing for people with disabilities, giving a statistical snapshot of some of those patients.

It showed that on April 24 about one third of those surveyed, or 19 people out of about 57, had been waiting for an average of over two years for a community placement.

Among the 19, there were two people who'd been waiting four to five years, and one for over six years.

Simon said all those surveyed were people had been found NCR, but who had received conditional discharges from the province's criminal code review board to move to a care home with appropriate staff.

The rights hearing is considering whether the Department of Community Services violated the Human Rights Act by housing patients with disabilities in an institutional setting at the Emerald Hall psychiatric ward in Halifax for over a decade.

A lawyer for the Disability Rights Coalition, Claire McNeil, had requested the NCR patient data, and said they are another symptom of the shortage of small homes with support staff to help people with mental illnesses and intellectual disability live in the community.