Blue Line

Quebec looks to share mental health information with police following death of SQ officer

April 4, 2023  By The Canadian Press

Apr. 4, 2023, Quebec City, Que. – The Legault government is following up on a demand from police officers to share information about the mental state of people released from custody following the death of a Sûreté du Québec (SQ) sergeant in Louiseville last week.

Public Security Minister François Bonnardel announced late Tuesday that deputy ministers would meet Wednesday to assess the feasibility of sharing information.

On March 27, Maureen Breau was stabbed to death while trying to arrest a man with mental health problems. The suspect was subsequently shot and killed by another officer.

The Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec (APPQ) then launched a petition calling for an information-sharing protocol so that police officers would be notified of a person’s medical condition before they intervened.

When there is a “release of persons whose mental state is disturbed with a potential of dangerousness,” the information would be transmitted to the police authorities, APPQ President Jacques Painchaud explained to Radio-Canada.

“I have heard your recriminations, your grievances in the petition that you have set up,” Bonnardel said in the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow, my deputy minister [of Public Security] will meet with the deputy minister of Justice and the deputy minister of Social Services to evaluate how, legally or not, we could transmit information for specific cases of health X or Y.”

He acknowledged this would be “a very useful tool” to find out about a person’s background when a call is made to 9-1-1.

It could have been a ‘game-changer’ for Breau, Bonnardel said.

“Breau did not go down fighting for nothing,” he added.

The release of information about a person’s mental health is a sensitive issue, as a patient’s medical records are generally confidential.

The minister was cautious about sharing the nature of the suspect’s health problems as the investigation is ongoing.

Bonnardel said the suspect had “problems that we won’t name but that have been exposed in the media.”

The minister asked police to give him “a little time” because the work had only just begun and mentioned that the decisions rendered by the Mental Health Review Board are “under federal jurisdiction.” The Commission is under Quebec’s jurisdiction.

The APPQ is asking the Quebec Mental Health Review Board to review the criteria for releasing a person with mental health problems.

“We will evaluate everything we can do as soon as possible to give you additional tools,” said Bonnardel.

Painchaud thanked the minister for his “courses of action” and said the petition would be maintained.

The petition was supposed to be posted on the National Assembly website and sponsored by Maskilongé MNA Simon Allaire, but it was still not there Tuesday evening.

All elected officials participating in the parliamentary committee observed a minute of silence in memory of police officer Maureen Breau just before the APPQ’s testimony.

This gesture is rather rare, even unheard of, in parliamentary committee but more common in the Blue Room when the National Assembly is sitting.

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