Can a person with COVID-19 be temporarily kept in an institution for a psychiatric evaluation?
“The request for custody in an establishment made under article 27 of the Civil Code of Quebec does not constitute an alternative mechanism for implementing the Public health law. “
This is what Judge Huppé recalled in a recent decision.
The Integrated University Health and Social Services Center of Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS) wanted to be authorized to temporarily keep the defendant in an institution so that he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation. The latter was admitted to Fleury Hospital on 1er last January and was placed in preventive custody. Three days later, a doctor concluded that an interim custody order was necessary.
The hearing was held by video conference and the defendant, who is hearing impaired, answered his attorney’s questions by text message from his hospital bed. This brief testimony showed that he is lucid and able to interact with others using a means appropriate to his handicap. He refuses to continue to be hospitalized.
The CIUSSS request is based on article 27 of the Civil Code of Quebec. The conditions of application of this provision are as follows:
- The person must present a danger to himself or to others;
- This danger must be linked to his mental state;
- The court must have serious grounds for concluding that such a danger exists;
- The power given to the court to order custody for psychiatric assessment is discretionary.
There must therefore necessarily be a link between danger and mental state of the person concerned by the request.
As for the “serious reasons”, they most often come from the behavior of the person or from a recent change in this one or in his attitude, such as inexplicable acts of violence, a substantial change in mood or an obvious loss. contact with reality.
The person does not have to justify his refusal to consent to a psychiatric evaluation nor to demonstrate his mental health.
In this case, the evidence presented by the CIUSSS as to the danger that the defendant could represent is limited to the fact thathe has COVID-19 and that’he does not respect the confinement instructions. Having contracted COVID-19 poses a risk to people with whom it may be in contact, but this danger does not arise from his mental state. Rather, it is the provisions of the Public health law that govern this situation.
It is therefore incumbent on the public authorities to take the appropriate measures to protect the Quebec population if the defendant represents a danger due to the fact that he has COVID-19.
To learn more about the interim custody orders issued in the context of the current pandemic, I invite you to read my post from May 2020.
Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal Integrated University Health and Social Services Center c. MD (CQ, 2021-01-07), 2021 QCCQ 25, SOQUIJ AZ-51734787. As of the date of the broadcast, the decision had not been appealed.