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Search and seizure of users

CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest

What you need to know
If an employee wants to search you or seize any of your belongings, there is a policy and procedure they must follow.

It states that:

  • All users have rights: the right to privacy, the right to safety, the right to dignity, the right to peaceful enjoyment of their property, etc. Find out more!
  • The employee must consider ways to avoid a search and seizure. You can also suggest options.

For example, you could ask the employee: Is there another way we could do this? In some situations, you might suggest giving your personal belongings to your loved ones to avoid being searched.

  • If the employee cannot find a way to avoid a search and seizure, they must first obtain your consent.

To do so, they need to explain:

  • The reasons for the search;
  •  What they are looking for;
  • How they plan to proceed. The employee must suggest the least intrusive method possible, depending on the situation;
  • What will happen if they find the items they are looking for, and if they find any illegal items;
  • Your right to accept or refuse to submit to the search, and what could happen if you refuse.

According to the law, you have the right to refuse unless:
The care or services cannot be provided safely without first conducting a search and seizure, AND:
- You would be in immediate, serious danger if the care and services were not provided;
- You have a court order requiring you to receive care and services.

Given all this information, the employee will ask if you consent to a search and seizure.

If you refuse:
If the employee has reason to believe that your safety or that of another person is at risk if a search is not performed, they will inform you and explain why.

You then have two choices:

  1. You can discuss the situation with the employee. If you change your mind following this discussion, you may consent to the search and then receive care and services;
  2. You can refuse the care and services if you are authorized to do so.

If there is no safety issue, you would still receive the care and services, and the search would not take place.

After the search:

  • The seized items will be securely stored and returned to you when you are discharged. If the items are illegal, they will be handed over to the police without disclosing your name;
  • An employee will record the incident in your file and follow up with you. They will make sure you are all right, and ask if you need support;
  • If necessary, they will discuss how the procedure went with you, and whether anything can be done to prevent it from happening again in the future.