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Health P.E.I. says it contacted two provinces about mental health assessments

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As the province’s courts struggle with delays in mental health assessments, Health P.E.I. says it is working to address the problem.

Delays have become the norm for court-ordered mental health assessments in P.E.I. leading to concerns being raised whenever they are ordered.

The Guardian contacted Health P.E.I. for an update on who will be performing the assessments after one of two psychiatrists the province found to do that job resigned. 

In a statement, Health P.E.I. said when it receives a court-ordered assessment it determines the best option to have it completed, whether that is through contracting a psychiatrist or sending the accused out of province.

“We acknowledge our obligation to respond to court-ordered assessments.”

P.E.I. has a memorandum of understanding with the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, N.S., to perform assessments, but it is facing capacity issues.

The forensic hospital has been declining to do some assessments for P.E.I.

A recent assessment report from the hospital was met with criticism during a recent court case where lawyers for both sides agreed it was not a proper assessment.

Referring to the ongoing problems, Crown attorney John Diamond said at the time the assessment orders were being given “lip service”.

Chief provincial court Judge Nancy Orr also recently warned the government could find itself in contempt of court if an assessment she ordered wasn’t carried out.

In the meantime, Health P.E.I. said it was in contact with two provinces to determine their capacity to accept patients that require admission and the terms under which they could provide the service.

“The recruitment of psychiatrists is a top priority and urgent recruitment of full-time, on-site psychiatry is underway.”

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