B.C.’s psychiatric system under scrutiny following Chinatown stabbings

B.C.’s premier is promising a review after police revealed that the man charged in a triple stabbing in Vancouver’s Chinatown was on unescorted leave from a forensic psychiatric centre. Monika Gul reports.

B.C.’s system of dealing with psychiatric patients remains in focus after it was revealed a man arrested and charged in connection with a triple stabbing in Chinatown over the weekend was on a day pass from a forensic psychiatric facility.

Many questions have been raised as to why a man with a violent history was granted a day pass to leave his forensic psychiatric facility.

A couple in their 60s was injured in the attack during the Light Up Chinatown festival Sunday, along with a woman in her early 20s.

Blair Evan Donnelly, a man in his 60s, has been charged in connection with the stabbings and remains in custody. He has not been tried in a court of law.

One critical voice arguing the BC Review Board needs to be put under its own review is Dave Teixeira.

He has acted as a spokesperson for the Clarke family in connection with the case of Allan Schoenborn, who killed his three children in Merritt in 2008.

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Teixeira has spoken out over the years, arguing the BC Review Board prioritizes a patient’s recovery — and doesn’t put enough emphasis on public safety.

“For 15 years now, I’ve been involved with victims rights and different cases with the BC Review Board and what has been a consistent concern is the fact the BC Review Board seems to lean into an ideological view that once you’ve spent a certain amount of time in the hospital, you deserve to go out,” Teixeira told CityNews in an interview. “The review board and the directors and the highest levels at the hospital just don’t seem to understand that.

“While this was inevitable, it’s also incredibly preventable. And we now have politicians who are white-hot angry. Let’s see if that anger turns into some energy, which will then turn into some action, because there are some very simple fixes here.”

In general, Teixeira feels the review board needs to overhaul how it evaluates patients and their ability to go out into the community.

“There’s a number of risk assessments that are out there, that are formalized throughout the mental health … regime. Up until at least a year ago, Colony Farm [Forensic Psychiatric Hospital] was using a sort of home-made risk assessment, and that clearly doesn’t work,” he explained.

Related video: Chinatown stabbing suspect was on day pass from forensic psychiatric centre, VPD says


But SFU Criminology professor Rob Gordon argues violent situations involving psychiatric patients in the community are rare.

“This is a good example of one of those horrible things that could happen,” Gordon acknowledged during an interview. “We should not condemn the whole system on the basis of this single incident. That would be a tragedy and an injustice to the many people who successfully negotiate a release and maintain proper treatment and care in the community.”

Forensic Psychiatric Services provided this statement to provide context to how often psychiatric patients end up breaking the rules:

“The use of day passes is the standard of practice in inpatient psychiatric care in Canada, and public safety is paramount. Unauthorized Absences (UAs) occur rarely when a patient doesn’t return at the allocated time to Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH). Between 2018/19 and 2022/23 (fiscal years) FPH provided an average of 4,516 day passes per year, and there was an average of 7 UAs per year. It is extremely rare for a FPH patient deemed clinically ready for a day pass to have interactions with the justice system while on a pass.”

-With files from Monika Gul

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