As Health P.E.I. struggles to get court-ordered mental health assessments done on time, a psychiatrist the province planned to use for them has resigned.
In a statement to The Guardian, Health P.E.I. confirmed Dr. Terrence Cronin, who was going to perform on-site forensic assessments in the province, won’t be doing them anymore.
With the resignation, it leaves Ontario-based Dr. Andrew Morgan to perform assessments though telehealth at a time when P.E.I.’s courts are seeing delays in getting them completed.
The statement said Health P.E.I. acknowledges it has an obligation to provide court-ordered mental health assessments in a timely manner.
It went on to say Cronin had resigned.
“Psychiatry is one of our priority areas for recruitment,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the courts are still left dealing with delays, including a recent assessment for John Tyson Boudreault that provincial court Judge John Douglas ordered in August.
During a recent appearance, Crown attorney John Diamond told the court the assessment for Boudreault was completed at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Nova Scotia.
Diamond said the assessment report wasn’t finished.
Douglas issued the assessment order after hearing details of Boudreault’s behaviour that was described as bizarre and included attacking a man in his 80s who had to be hospitalized.
In an unrelated incident, Boudreault went into a dwelling and took a shower while one of the residents was in bed.
Boudreault is facing multiple charges, including assaulting a police officer.
Douglas granted an extension to the order and adjourned the matter until Oct. 18, although it may be called sooner if the report is ready before then.
P.E.I. has a memorandum of understanding with the East Coast Forensic Hospital to perform court-ordered assessments. That facility is dealing with its own capacity issues and has been declining to do some assessments for P.E.I.
Health P.E.I. said its goal is to be in a position to provide court-ordered assessments, and it did use the East Coast Forensic Hospital on a one-time basis during the summer.
“We continue to work to make sure we have the resources available to meet that obligation for court-ordered assessments.”
As Boudreault’s case works its way through the court, it isn’t the only one that has seen a delay in getting an assessment done.
In November 2018, Douglas ordered an assessment in an infanticide case, before issuing a new order in February 2019 after the forensic hospital missed the first deadline and an extension.
More recently, Chief Judge Nancy Orr issued an assessment order on Thursday in Georgetown for Adam Gregory MacDonald, who is facing three charges that include driving while prohibited.
MacDonald’s lawyer, Hazen Brien, who practises in New Brunswick, raised concerns after struggling to determine who would complete the assessment he was requesting to determine if his client was criminally responsible.
After making inquiries, it appeared no one was doing them, Brien said.
Orr ordered the assessment to be done within 30 days.
She also suggested Brien will need to follow up with various people to ensure the assessment is completed in a timely manner.
Brien said he would endeavour to do that.
“Wish me luck,” he said.
Orr responded that Brien would need more than luck.
“It’s a major issue,” she said.
MacDonald will be back in court Oct. 31.