The Turn of the Century: Voluntary Admissions

The turn of the 20th century continued to produce a flurry of legislative activity with regards to mental health care. Numerous legislative amendments aimed to find a balance between municipal support and provincial funding. In 1906, the municipality was required to pay 10¢ per day for each resident of the asylum. Although this was in turn given back to the municipality in the form of tax credits, cooperation between the city and the province was a tried, tested, and true necessity which was well established by this point.

The Hospital for the Insane Act (Toronto) (PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view) was passed in 1913 and put in place the first provision for admission that was strictly voluntary in a public institution. Only three years later this act was further amended to allow for the admission of people who were described as "alcoholic or drug habituate". Although the power to commit this new segment of patients would be juggled between county court judges and medical professionals, this marked a new phase in patient admissions. Representative of an era ripe with an expanding understanding of mental health, the legal and social definitions or mental illness were to undergo a monumental shift following the end of the First World War.