Quebec announces new alert pilot project to help find missing seniors

Quebec Minister Responsible for Seniors and Informal Caregivers Marguerite Blais responds to the opposition during question period Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government is launching a SILVER alert pilot project aimed at finding missing people and seniors with major neurocognitive disorders and whose lives could be in danger.

Seniors Minister Marguerite Blais made the announcement the Tuesday in Joliette, one of the three regional municipal counties where the pilot project will take place. The other two locations are Vallée-de-l’Or in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region and Drummond in Centre-du-Québec.

The alert notification system informs the general public about disappearances in their community. For example, an alert could be issued about a senior with Alzheimer’s disease who left their home and hasn’t been located.

“We will never be too benevolent for people living with major neurocognitive disorders or for seniors, who are at greater risk of suffering from them,” Blais said in a statement. “This additional tool will make it possible, at very specific times, to alert the population to keep an eye out to find people in potential distress.”

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The alerts will be issued only on cellphones and will not be broadcast on radio or television. They will be limited to a very localized geographical area where the person is missing.

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Quebec provincial police will be able to trigger an alert, depending on the situation and if it meets a specific set of criteria. The notifications will be in both French and English.

The Sûreté du Québec will also provide more detailed information about a disappearance on its website. It will also be shared on social media platforms as well as the province’s Québec en Alerte website.

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the alert system will help appeal to the public, which could then “provide valuable support to the police, families and health-care personnel.”

The pilot project is set to begin on Sept. 5 for a full year. Police will collect data throughout that time, which will then be analyzed to see if the alert system can be expanded and used across the province.

The government says the program is being financially supported through existing funding. The alert system was an election promise made by Coalition Avenir Québec in 2018.

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with files from The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'What is a Silver Alert?'
What is a Silver Alert?

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