After four months in jail for mischief, a mentally-ill 74-year-old man appears to be closer to finally going to a hospital.
The Yukon Review Board hearing for Raymond Hureau took place last Friday, at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
The review board confirmed what a judge ruled last month, that Hureau is unfit to stand trial for the relatively minor charges he’s facing.
The board ruled he needs to be hospitalized.
About 14 people surrounded the table to provide information. They included representatives from social services, the mental health branch, adult protection services, the jail and the Crown.
But even a consensus on what needs to happen next doesn’t mean things will be moving speedily.
If social services can’t find Hureau a hospital bed Outside in two weeks, it has been ordered to let the board know.
It’s likely he’ll end up at one of the two beds paid for by the Yukon government at Brockville General Hospital in Ontario, the board heard.
Until then he remains in jail, since, in Yukon, the WCC has been designated a hospital for these kind of cases.
The glacial pace of this case has clearly frustrated many.
Bob Dick, the lawyer appointed to represent Hureau at the hearing, pointed out that the purpose of a review board is to find Mr. Hureau the appropriate care until he can eventually be found fit to stand trial.
In this case, if Hureau ever were to be sentenced for his crimes, he would have already spent more than enough time behind bars.
Hureau did not attend the hearing. He has refused to speak to his lawyer and says he is appealing the case to the queen.
He has been at the WCC since May after disrupting a church event.
A territorial court judge originally found him fit to stand trial, so long as he had a lawyer. That decision was overturned and he was found unfit.
His children describe their father as a caring man who would open his door to anyone in need. An active volunteer in the church, he was everyone’s friend and quasi-grandpa.
Now he sees grand conspiracies and is distrustful of everyone he comes across.
He’s currently in the jail’s secure living unit, isolated from the general population.
The isolation is not likely to help his mental state, Crown lawyer David McWhinnie pointed out.
“The WCC is not the place for him.”
McWhinnie said he had “serious concerns” that it appeared nothing had happened to secure a bed for Hureau.
Kim Sova, the lawyer representing the director of social services, said officials are “at the mercy of bed availability” and have been in contact with hospitals across the country.
The Yukon government currently pays for two beds at the Brockville General Hospital’s secure ward.
In an interview this morning, Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living said the government can also reach out to other hospitals if needed. That can only happen after a review board ruling, she said.
Living estimates there are about four Yukoners in Outside hospitals under a review board order.
“We don’t have the capacity here. So we have to look for beds outside the territory,” she said.
In the 2012-2013 year, the Department of Health and Social Services spent $2.5 million on people who have files with the review board.
Some of those clients are able to stay in the territory in places like local group homes, Living said.
Overall, the total cost works out to about $129,000 a year per person.
When a person has to be sent Outside to a forensic mental health hospital, the cost to the territory is about $1,200 a day.
When asked whether that money might be better used providing care locally, Living said it’s important to remember that each client has different needs.
“The kinds of care or services or supports that they require can be as different as night and day,” she said.
“For us to be able to provide the different care needs for all of these individuals, would, I think, if they actually did a business analysis, cost us more than $129,000 a client.”
In Hureau’s case, one of the Brockville beds is taken until October. The second has already been earmarked for another client, though Hureau could jump the queue if necessary, the review board heard.
“Any delay at all is really an injustice to Mr. Hureau,” Dick said.
Hureau’s case will be reviewed in six months.
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