In an effort to curb patient abuse, Quebec has decided to authorize the use of hidden cameras in long-term healthcare facilities.

The controversial decision follows numerous cases of abuse from across the country that came to light after the perpetrators were caught on hidden cameras installed by the families of patients.

Three years ago, for example, two employees of a St-Lambert institution were jailed after they were caught abusing patients.

Under the new rules, patients or their families will not have to notify staff or management that these cameras have been installed, but live streaming will be forbidden.

Jeff Begley of the CSN, the union representing most healthcare workers in Quebec said the union is fine with the decision.

“We put on the table a couple of preoccupations that we had,” he said. “First of all, that it not be some kind of a free-for-all where everybody can put it live on Facebook,” he said.

The cameras, he said, may highlight that the great majority of healthcare workers are doing a good job and might even show there are deficiencies in staffing.

“The patients are winners, the families are winners, and the 99.9 per cent of our workers who are doing a great job are also winners, because they won't be put in with the bad apples,” he said.

Patient advocates, however, say it's not the ideal or only solution.

“(We need) better verification of criminal records, better training, better recruiting and how about better supervision? Everywhere where these (terms) were followed, we were able to sanction bad employees and fire them without the need of a camera,” said Paul Brunet of the Council for the Protection of Patients.

The details of the new policy are still being ironed out, but it is expected to be approved in the coming months.