The Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (PPAO) is part of Ontario’s Ministry of Health. It was established in 1983 to protect the rights of patients in psychiatric facilities and ensure the voice of the patient is promoted and their rights are protected. All PPAO services are confidential and are independent from hospitals.

The PPAO provides the following services:

Rights information for patients with changes in legal status

If a doctor believes a patient is suffering from mental illness that will likely result in serious harm to themselves or others, they can fill out a psychiatric assessment form (Form 1) to have the patient held in the hospital. Learn more about what happens when a Form 1 is issued.

After a psychiatric assessment, doctors in mental health facilities can change a patient’s legal status. If a doctor changes your legal status, your rights will also change.

If you’re a patient and a doctor changed your legal status, under the Mental Health Act, a doctor must contact a rights adviser to meet with you. The rights adviser will:

  • explain how the change affects your rights
  • discuss the doctor’s decision with you to see if you agree with the decision
  • help you apply to the Consent and Capacity Board for a hearing if you don’t agree with the doctor’s decision
  • help you find a lawyer
  • help you apply for legal aid

Rights advisers do not work for the hospital, and the service they provide is free and confidential. Only the patient can refuse rights advice. Learn more about patient rights and who is eligible to receive this free and confidential service from a rights adviser.

Changes to legal status

Doctors in mental health facilities can change your legal status to:

  • an involuntary patient for two weeks or more (involuntary patients cannot leave the hospital without the doctor’s permission).
  • incapable of consenting to treatment (a substitute decision-maker, usually a close relative, makes treatment decisions for you).
  • incapable of managing your property (someone else handles your finances while you’re in hospital or after you are discharged)
  • incapable of consenting to the use, collection or disclosure of your personal health information
  • placed on a community treatment order from the doctor, including orders to take medication or attend appointments while you’re not in hospital. Patients can be admitted to a hospital voluntarily, depending on their individual circumstances.

Throughout the process, a deemed hearing may be required under the Mental Health Act. Learn more about when and why a deemed hearing may be needed.

Advocacy services for patients

The PPAO has advocates in nine psychiatric facilities in Ontario. These advocates can help patients who have concerns about their:

  • care
  • treatment
  • quality of life

Advocates provide services that:

  • are free
  • are confidential
  • follow your requests
  • are independent from the hospital

If you’re a patient in a facility with an advocate, you can request one to help you:

  • navigate the hospital system
  • resolve concerns and negotiate with hospital staff
  • refer you to outside community agencies and resources, if necessary
  • make informed decisions
  • maintain responsibility for your wellness and recovery
  • be involved in all decisions which affect your care, life and treatment

Contact an advocate

There are advocates that you can contact if you are a patient at one of these nine facilities.

The Royal – Brockville Mental Health Centre
Tel: 613-345-1461 ext. 2530
St. Joseph’s Healthcare – West 5th Campus
Tel: 905-522-1155 ext. 35514
Providence Care Hospital
Tel: 613-544-4900 ext. 53081
Parkwood Institute
Tel: 519-455-5110 ext. 47267
Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
Penetanguishene (Ontario)
Tel: 705-549-3181 ext. 2385
Tel: 705-549-3181 ext. 2389
Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care
St. Thomas
Tel: 519-631-8510 ext. 49451
St. Joseph’s Care Group
Thunder Bay
Tel: 807-343-2431 ext. 4386
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Tel: 416-535-8501 ext. 33149 
Tel: 416-535-8501 ext. 33199
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
Tel: 905-668-5881 ext. 6812

If you contact us from a different hospital, we will:

  • direct you to that hospital’s client or patient relations department
  • provide you with other referrals relevant to your concerns

Educational services

Contact the PPAO to learn about our services, the Mental Health Act, related legislation and various topics supporting mental health and patient rights.

Please contact our office at ppao.moh@ontario.ca to arrange a free presentation.

Contact the PPAO

You can contact the PPAO, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, excluding public holidays, by:

Mailing address:
5700 Yonge Street, 5th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M4M 2K5

Holiday closures

The PPAO is closed on the holidays listed below.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Civic Holiday
  • Labour Day
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Remembrance Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Rights Advice requests received after 5:00 p.m. on Friday’s or the day prior to a holiday will be processed the following business day.