Granny Cameras: Can You Use Them & Is It Legal

Baby boomers are nearing their senior years, and many kids have had to put their parents into senior home. Abuse in senior centres is not a new phenomenon, and many are concerned that their parents are experiencing abuse by their care-taking staff. Granny cam’s are but one way to gain insight into whether your parents are being abused but the question is, is it legal?

The following is a real-life example of someone who chose to use a granny cam and was faced with a pressing legal issue:

Joan’s* mother Grace has dementia and is unable to answer questions about her care. Grace often has unexplained bruises when the family comes to visit her at her nursing home.
Joan asked us if she could hide a camera in her mom’s room to see what is going and was worried if she was breaking the law or could get in trouble.

We asked our audience what they thought, could Joan do this without risk? Should she do this regardless of legal exposure or is there another way for Joan to do everything she can to protect her mom.

Some suggested she ask the home if a camera could be placed there. We disagree, the home is liable for the actions of their employees and is not interested in exposing themselves to liability, and we want to know if the abuse has been systematic so we can catch the culprit and get her justice.

As Joan is a power of attorney for her mother, she absolutely has the right to install a camera in her mothers’ private room; however, it does come with risk.

  • Section 184 of the Criminal Code of Canada forbids audio recording in certain circumstances. For example, one party of the recording must consent. If your loved one is out of the room and the camera records two others who have not consented to the recording of their conversation, you are in breach of the law and could face criminal proceedings.
  • Section 162 of the Criminal Code of Canada, forbids the video recording in various circumstances such as where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The defence of it being “in the public good” by exposing and/or preventing elder abuse is possible; however, it would be a question of law and fact for a court to determine.
  • The Residents Bill of Rights under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 orders that every resident has the right to certain privacies such as the privacy or care, privacy of treatment, the privacy of communications and to meet privately with friends and family. Therefore, the use of Nanny cams inwards demand semi-private rooms demands the consideration and co-operation of all roommates or their designated decision makers prior to the installation of any video camera.

Currently both the Long Term Care Homes Act, 2007, and the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, are silent on the use of Granny Cams within Ontario facilities, however, our criminal courts have deemed the recordings as acceptable evidence in court and have used them to substantiate convictions of elder abuse in multiple provinces including Ontario.

Elder abuse is a current and pressing issue in our society and is one that is only to become more prevalent as a greater portion of our population ages and becomes more vulnerable due to cognitive and physical impairments.

We are interested in your thoughts, do the risks outweigh the benefits? Are Granny Cams the way to go? Would you want one installed in your nursing home room? Would you install one in your family members room? What do you think?

**Note: All names have been changed to protect clients identity

Contact Millars Lawyers today if you suspect that a family member or loved one is being abused (519) 657-1LAW or 

By: Shari Lamore 

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