Personal surveillance cameras to be allowed in Quebec's long-term care homes

Beginning March 7, residents of publicly funded long-term care institutions in Quebec will have the right to install surveillance equipment in their rooms to prevent mistreatment.

Residents or their representatives won't need permission of CHSLDs to install monitors, starting March 7

'An image is worth 1,000 words,' Seniors Minister Francine Charbonneau said in announcing details of the new policy in Quebec City Tuesday.

Beginning March 7, residents of publicly funded long-term care institutions in Quebec will have the right to install surveillance equipment in their rooms to prevent mistreatment.

The Quebec government said Tuesday that the province's chronic care institutions (CHSLDs) will no longer be allowed to deny requests by residents or their representatives to use cameras to monitor interactions with staff and other residents.

It's hoped the new measure will help curb the abuse of CHSLD residents.

"An image is worth 1,000 words," Seniors Minister Francine Charbonneau said at a news conference in Quebec City. 

"We want to make sure that if we have images of someone who does an act, we can stop it as fast as possible. Nobody has the right to mistreat anybody."

Not for spying on workers

​The new policy was initially made public in October, although the government has now announced some slight modifications to its original guidelines. 

These include extending the regulations to permit the use of smartphones and electronic tablets, as well as surveillance cameras.

Before a camera is installed, residents will be encouraged to secure the consent of their roommates and to inform the administration of the CHSLD, however, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette stressed that neither step is mandatory.

'We're in 2018. These people are at home,' said Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, flanked by Seniors Minister Francine Charbonneau in Quebec City Tuesday. (Radio-Canada)

"We're in 2018. These people are at home," Barrette said. "It's a choice that belongs to the individual and their family."

Each long-term care facility will have a designated representative to assist residents who want to install cameras. That person's mandate will be to ensure the footage respects privacy rules, said Charbonneau. 

Among them:

  • The camera can't be used to capture images and sounds from outside the user's room.
  • The camera also cannot capture images from a bathroom, unless it's justified.
  • When it is installed in a shared room, the camera cannot be used to capture images or sounds of the other residents.
  • The camera must be removed if its use is no longer necessary for the purposes sought by its installation.

There will also be signs posted at the entrance of CHSLDs, advising visitors and staff of the possibility of surveillance cameras in the rooms.

Some unions have expressed concern that footage gathered by residents will be used by administrators to spy on workers. 

Barrette said that wasn't the goal of the new measures. The identity of people captured on camera will not be revealed except in instances where a person is the subject of a complaint by a resident, he said.