MONTREAL — Quebec will allow residents in provincially run long-term care facilities to install cameras in their rooms without having to inform the establishment and its employees.
The new regulation would permit occupants and their families to put surveillance equipment in place, but only to ensure the safety of individuals and help protect personal property.
The cameras could also monitor the quality of services being provided by the institution or spot cases of mistreatment.
The directive was published in Quebec's official gazette on Wednesday but still has to undergo a 90-day period of public consultations.
A support group that has long called for such a move says it's relieved the province has finally decided to take action.
Spokesman Pierre Blain said he was worried in the past that an establishment would have the power to authorize the installation of cameras and their use.
"It's the resident who gets to decide on installing a camera because that person is in their own home," he said in an interview. "That's a big step."
Unions that represent social service workers in provincial institutions appeared to welcome the news, but also expressed some apprehension.
Union spokesman Jeff Begley considers it a good initiative if it is able to flush out mistreatment and theft.
But Begley's fear is the cameras will be used to evaluate work done by employees.
He said that could lead to sanctions which have nothing to do with the safety of the long-term care residents.
"Once a resident decides to complain to an employer, what will happen?" he added. "That's our concern."
But Begley noted the surveillance cameras could also highlight problems unions would like to know about, such as a shortage of personnel or lack of financing.
The provincial regulation prohibits the cameras being used to record sound or images of other residents in the same room or to record outside the room.
They also could not be installed in bathrooms — unless it is justified by concerns about safety and mistreatment.
The directive also states the confidentiality of recorded images must be ensured and identities protected.
But Begley is worried about one change from the original proposal. Initially, publishing on Facebook and elsewhere would not be permitted, but he said it now will be allowed with certain restrictions.
"If on Facebook, you are able to identify the place where something is happening, reporters will be looking to see who and where it is," he added.
Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press