Spycams allowed in seniors’ rooms

Ombudsman:

“They’re not illegal”

By Robert Frank

The Suburban

People who live in residences and long-term care facilities have a right “to install surveillance devices in their private rooms,” declared Quebec Ombudsman Raymonde St. Germain.

The finding will force Laval’s health and social services authority (CIUSS Laval) to revamp its rules. Spurred by staff objections, CIUSS Laval forbade video recording devices in the wake of a number of high-profile cases in which family members used them to expose incidents of elder abuse by employees in various locations in Quebec.

St. Germain issued the statement after the issue was raised on the floor of the Quebec legislature during the June 5 sitting of the National Assembly.

“As the law currently stands, users or their legal representatives who, without the residential institution’s knowledge, install a visual or auditory surveillance device in their private rooms are not doing anything illegal,” she explained. “as long as the device does not interfere with the right to privacy of the users themselves, their families other users and institution employees.”

The law is still trying to catch up with rapid advances in technology, St. Germain added.

“Case law on the use of technology by CHSLD residents is relatively recent and still at a fledgling stage of development,” she observed.

“Installing [these] devices…is warranted if there is reason to believe that the user’s health or safety is at risk,” St. Germain insisted.

All calls to CIUSS to learn how this will affect were escalated communication director Doris Prince, who said through a subordinate that she would be unavailable to respond to an interview request before this week’s edition of The Suburban went to press.

As reported in The Suburban, last year Laval Police singled out for praise an organization called DIRA-Laval, which works to prevent elder abuse. More information about its programs are available on its French-only website at www.dira-laval.ca

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