Seniors living in long-term care facilities in Quebec will soon have the right to put hidden cameras in their rooms, the provincial government confirmed on Wednesday.
The move comes after several cases of hidden cameras generated controversy in the past.
So, why does the government feel the need to allow seniors and people with disabilities living in care facilities to put hidden cameras in their rooms?
“It’s heartbreaking to be in a situation where the population distrusts the health system. That’s very, very sad,” said Christine Morin, a Université Laval law professor and Antoine-Turmel research chair for the legal protection of seniors.
The province said cameras have become necessary since abuse too often exists.
“The law considers the patient’s home, they are in the patient’s home, although it’s a facility. They have the right – that’s our position – to install surveillance cameras,” Health Minister Gaétan Barrette explained.
Based on the advice of legal professionals, the government said facilities can no longer bar patients from using cameras if they want to.
“I don’t think anyone’s putting forward the cameras as the solution,” said Pearl Eliadis, president of the Quebec Bar Association’s human rights committee.
“I think you’re quite right to say that it’s one aspect of a broader issue.”
Morin said the real problem is a financial strain on the system.
“The public curator can intervene, but we know the people in that office are overworked – handling many, many files,” she said.
“The human rights commission also has a small team, so whose responsibility is it to handle the complaints?”
“I’m not against more resources,” said Francine Charbonneau, the minister responsible for seniors and the fight against bullying.
“We did two announcements, one of $65 million, one of $60 million. We are acknowledging that we need different methods to make sure that we do treat our elderly the right way.”
The new rules regarding cameras fall under a larger bill that mandates institutions providing health and social services to the elderly.
It also provides protection to whistleblowers who report abuse.
Hearings will continue for the next two weeks.