Will hidden cameras stop elder abuse in Quebec?

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WATCH ABOVE: Seniors living in long-term care facilities will soon have the right to put hidden cameras in their rooms, but as Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, some advocates insist this won’t necessarily stop elder abuse – Jan 18, 2017

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.

READ MORE: Quebec health minister unveils plan to improve seniors care

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.

READ MORE: Quebec to invest $22M in home health care, especially for seniors

The province said cameras have become necessary since abuse too often exists.

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“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.

READ MORE: Federal government funds Quebec project to fight senior abuse

“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.”

READ MORE: What do Quebec seniors need? Advocacy group takes concerns to government

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?”

READ MORE: Quebec to invest over $50 million in home health care

“I’m not against more resources,” said Francine Charbonneau, the minister responsible for seniors and the fight against bullying.

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“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.

READ MORE: Quebec to end health accessory fees; doctors and clinics to absorb costs

It also provides protection to whistleblowers who report abuse.

Hearings will continue for the next two weeks.

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