- Francine Charbonneau, Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying;
- Harold Lebel, MNA for Rimouski, Parti québécois;
- François Paradis, MNA for Lévis, Coalition avenir Québec.
A total of 32 actors took part in the Commission’s work. The Chair was the first to talk on Tuesday, January 17 and supported the Bill. There were two main arguments for this position. First, the approach relies on measures aiming at facilitating the reporting of mistreatment situations and not making the reporting mandatory. In our opinion, it is not so much the priority on which we must devote energy on but rather the obligation to properly addressed the situation! Then the Bill proposes the strengthening of certain existing mechanisms such as the Complaints Commissioner, the Human and Youth Rights Commission (CDPDJ), Police services and professional associations as well as to consider a mandatory requirement of a new mechanism: a policy to counter mistreatment in all institutions as stated by the Act Respecting Health Services and Social Services (LSSSS).
During our appearance before the Commission, we underlined that in order for Bill 115 to be efficient, it must focus more on the strengthening of other existing mechanisms. In a study on reporting situations of mistreatment in institutional settings conducted in 2013-2014, we have identified 26 situations. However, those mechanisms are not known, underutilized and should be reinforced to be applied properly.
(See the executive summary of the study report– in French only). Moreover, some elements of this Bill should be clarified and enhanced, such as:
- The population affected by the Bill (capable persons vs vulnerable persons);
- How to reach older adults and persons over 18 in a vulnerable situation unknown to the health and social services network;
- The flexibility given to complaints commissioners to perform their new role;
- Types of mistreatment situations, which will be covered by the socio-judicial agreement.
In addition to testifying to the Commission, a brief available to the public reflecting our more detailed position was submitted. It includes a series of questions on the Bill along with possible solutions and reflections. For more information, please consult the brief (in French only).
Several elements of the discussions have transcended the working week of the Commission:
- What is the best approach? A simplified reporting procedure or mandatory reporting?
- There were diverse views on the subject. Actors advocating mandatory reporting believe that such a measure would better protect older adults and persons over 18 in a major vulnerable situation. However, several groups advocating a simplified reporting procedure have reiterated the importance of taking actions based on a continuum standing between the protection of persons and the respect of their autonomy. So, the respect of self-determination, the respect of professional secrecy and especially of the preservation of the relationship of trust between the public and professionals are among key arguments we heard. We added that the adoption of a mechanism for mandatory reporting will require the implementation of a new structure, including penalties for non-reporting. This may have a dampening effect on reporting, particularly because people will make sure that it is indeed mistreatment before reporting, so that mistreatment will last longer and that only very serious and very clear situations will be reported.
- How the Act responds to situations of organizational mistreatment?
- Most actors have expressed several reservations about the Bill’s ability to counter organizational mistreatment effectively. Several of them also proposed possible measures for improving this point. Since this type of mistreatment, by its nature, is more in the hands of the Minister of Health and Social Services than the Minister Responsible for Seniors, discussions on this topic may not have met all the expectations of those who brought up the questions.
- How efficient the proposed actions, such as the implementation of a mandatory policy to counter institutional mistreatment and the strengthening of the Complaints Commissioners’ responsibilities, will counter mistreatment?
- If some have welcomed the implementation of these two mechanisms, several have stressed that it would not be enough for an efficient legislation. In this context, it was suggested on many occasions that it was also to strengthen the responsibilities and powers of other mechanisms such as: the Centres d’aide et d’accompagnement aux plaintes (CAAP) (organization mandated to assist and support persons who wish to file a complaint), the Users’ Committees (UCs) and the Ombudsman, while adding adequate funding.
See the presentations and the Hansard (transcript) for further details (in French only).
A call for public submissions was launched prior to special and public consultations. In addition to the 32 submissions received from key actors heard during the Commission’s work, 13 other actors also took part in this exercise as we speak. See them online for free to learn about the detailed positions of each actor (in French only).