Province appointing adviser for external review of CAMH

The provincial government is appointing an adviser to an external review of CAMH in the wake of multiple patients slipping away from the mental health facility over the last month.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in a statement Tuesday that the province and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have agreed that the government will “participate directly” in an external review of the hospital’s procedures for issuing passes and granting privileges for forensic patients.

“We are therefore now working to identify and appoint a government adviser to the panel and will share that information once it becomes available,” the statement reads. “The recommendations from this review will provide expert advice on how to improve hospital protocols and will protect patients and the community.

“I want to thank CAMH for their collaborative efforts to address these challenges. Together, we will ensure that the system is working to protect patients and area residents.”

Four patients have gotten away from the facility in recent weeks. The centre’s president announced an external review of its processes in late July.

That announcement came just over a week after it came to light that Zhebin Cong, found not criminally responsible in a 2014 stabbing death, had left the country while on an unaccompanied community pass issued in accordance with the terms of his Ontario Review Board disposition.

Cong, said Toronto police, boarded a flight on July 3 — the same day he went missing.

A few weeks after that, a 27-year-old man went missing from CAMH for several hours, but was located in the city’s west end the same day and returned to hospital security, according to Toronto police.

Court documents show the man had gone missing on two occasions and had attempted to leave another time.

Then last week, a 45-year-old man with a long history of sexual offences against strangers disappeared from the facility.

He was found in Brampton last Friday.

Toronto police are also searching for 59-year-old Robert McNamara, who went missing from the facility last weekend — though CAMH says he is not a “forensics patient.”

That means he has not been admitted to the facility under the Criminal Code of Canada, has not been found not criminally responsible of criminal offences or unfit to stand trial, and has not been ordered to have treatment.

CAMH says he is a voluntary patient who did not return on a pass — though police say they still consider him to possibly be a public safety threat.

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