CANADA | Overly long wait times for contesting confinement for people unwillingly kept in a health institution

Québec City, October 10, 2018 – Further to a Court of Québec order, a health institution may confine persons whose mental health presents a danger to themselves or to others against their will.  These people may contest confinement before the Tribunal administratif du Québec (TAQ). However, given TAQ’s long processing times for this kind of motion, this form of recourse, provided under the Act respecting the protection of persons whose mental state presents a danger to themselves or to others and under the Civil Code of Québec, often remains purely theoretical. The Québec Ombudsman released an investigation report on this subject.

"Motions contesting confinement must be processed as emergencies. Our investigation showed that between 2015 and 2017, in 80% of cases, recourse could not in fact be exercised, often because confinement was lifted before the case was heard," said Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret. 

The Québec Ombudsman made five recommendations to TAQ and two to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, namely:

  • Improve training to the staff of health institutions subject to the legal framework for institutional confinement;

  • Improve the information on the recourse available to people under confinement;  

  • Quickly provide confirmation of receipt of their motion to people who contest their confinement; 

  • Foster the use of video hearings for emergency cases;
    Document the grounds for postponed hearings or suspended processing of motions;

  • Assess the causes for these delays in order to tackle them effectively;

Provide information about recourse through the Québec Ombudsman to the people who feel they have been harmed by TAQ’s processing delays.

The Québec Ombudsman’s mission is to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld whenever citizens interact with public services, thereby helping to improve public service quality and integrity.

The full report can be downloaded below.


Source: Protecteur du Citoyen, Canada

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