Provisional custody in an institution in the context of a COVID-19 pandemic
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Provisional custody in an institution in the context of a COVID-19 pandemic


Provisional custody in an institution in the context of a COVID-19 pandemic

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If he has serious grounds to believe that a person represents a danger to himself or to others because of his mental state, the court may order his temporary custody in a health or social services establishment to undergo a psychiatric assessment (art. 27 of Civil Code of Quebec).

The criteria for granting such a request have been specified in J. M. v. Jean-Talon Hospital of the Center universitaire universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. The danger in question must be an important danger defined in a specific and precise manner, and the risk of its realization must be high without its materialization being necessarily imminent.

In addition, one must not wait for a dangerous act to be committed before concluding that it is dangerous. It is sufficient that there is sufficiently serious and precise evidence to allow us to conclude that there is a need for such custody.

Here are 3 recent examples of interim custody orders made in the current pandemic.

Bas-Saint-Laurent Integrated Health and Social Center c. C.G.

The defendant, a 72-year-old woman, suffers from an intellectual disability and a behavioral disorder. She is unable to understand the health emergency related to COVID-19, the containment measures imposed or the instructions issued by public health. She found herself at the supermarket and became disorganized by refusing to wash her hands, which required police intervention to control her. Since she was trying to flee and offered no collaboration, she was hospitalized in a safe area. His family members are no longer able to keep him safe during this pandemic period. Because of her mental state and the danger she poses for herself and for others, including the danger that she places herself in a potential contagion situation, the court ordered her to be kept in establishment provisionally for for psychiatric assessment.

Montérégie-Center Integrated Health and Social Services Center (Charles-Lemoyne Hospital) c. J.S.

In this case, the defendant was at high risk of being a carrier of the coronavirus. He had significant COVID-19 symptoms and was in preventive confinement at the hospital pending the results of a screening test. He also suffered from toxic psychosis and his delirium resulted in a total loss of contact with reality. He wanted to kill his ex-wife and threatened to kill himself. His behavior was completely unpredictable and highly dangerous. He was also at risk of running away. Since he was homeless while strict measures of social confinement must be respected by the entire population, the court concluded that, in his current condition, his wandering put him at high risk for him and for the others . He therefore ordered his detention for psychiatric assessment.

Montérégie-Center Integrated Health and Social Services Center c. GO.

This decision concerns an 18-year-old young man who is being followed for probable schizophrenia. He suffers from hallucinations, is delusional and uses cannabis as well as street drugs. He also recognizes episodes during which he cannot distinguish the dream from reality.

He does not respect the curfew imposed on him by the Court on charges of fraud and he sometimes does not go home to sleep. His mother tries to get him to take the medication prescribed by a psychiatrist, but he can’t do it when he doesn’t come home. In the circumstances, she doubts that he is complying with the government-mandated social isolation measures because he does not understand the importance or the seriousness of COVID-19. He also mentioned that he does not believe in its existence.

The mother also works in a water treatment plant. She is one of only 2 employees still working there due to a reduction in the workforce due to health emergency measures. If the defendant still runs away, it is feared that he will return carrying the virus and that he will then infect his mother, which could lead to disastrous consequences.

The defendant’s state of mind, confirmed by the latter, raises fears that he could act on the grounds of his impulsiveness, his delirium and a loss of contact with reality. He could once again leave the family home and place himself in a state of danger, a situation of probable contagion. According to the court, this possibility is more than probable.

The court concluded that he had serious grounds to believe that the defendant could endanger his own safety and that of his family. He ordered that he be kept in an institution for psychiatric assessment.

In closing, to learn more about the notification of documents and procedural documents during the health crisis, I invite you to read my colleague Philippe Buist’s post.

References

  • M. c. Jean-Talon Hospital of the Center universitaire universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (C.A., 2018-03-13), 2018 QCCA 378, SOQUIJ AZ-51476484, 2018EXP-717.
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent Integrated Health and Social Center c. C.G. (C.Q., 2020-04-16), 2020 QCCQ 1586, SOQUIJ AZ-51684109. As of the date of broadcast, the decision had not been appealed.
  • Montérégie-Center Integrated Health and Social Services Center (Charles-Lemoyne Hospital) c. J.S. (C.Q., 2020-04-03), 2020 QCCQ 1326, SOQUIJ AZ-51681390. As of the date of broadcast, the decision had not been appealed.
  • Montérégie-Center Integrated Health and Social Services Center c. GO. (C.Q., 2020-03-26), 2020 QCCQ 1315, SOQUIJ AZ-51680867, 2020EXP-981.
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