WINNIPEG — A member of the Manitoba legislature plans to table a private member's bill to create a Silver Alert system in the province to aid in locating vulnerable people.
Brandon East MLA Len Isleifson put forward a notice of motion indicating he will call for a change to the Missing Persons Act.
A Silver Alert system is similar to an Amber Alert, but it’s aimed at notifying the public about elderly people or those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism or Down syndrome.
There’s currently no Canada-wide Silver Alert system, but a group in British Columbia has created a citizen’s Silver Alert program.
It scans local police websites for news about missing persons and sends out alerts to subscribers to help locate people who meet the criteria for urgency and vulnerability.
The program was started after the disappearance of Coquitlam resident Shin Noh, who had dementia and disappeared during his daily walk. He was never found.
Search and rescue volunteer Michael Coyle started a website with Noh’s son.
“We just help send that message along to pass it along and alert people,” Coyle told CTV Winnipeg. “I don’t know many people who regularly scan the RCMP websites so what we feel, and this is based on our experience as search and rescue, is these people are vulnerable, and we’re called out to search for them because of that reason.”
He said vulnerable people often won't ask for assistance.
"Someone can die in the middle of a city full of millions of people who just need to know that the person’s missing, to take a look around, something as simple as in their backyard.”
Alzheimer Society of Manitoba CEO Wendy Schettler said it’s important to get the word out fast when someone living with Alzheimer’s disease goes missing.
“The longer a person is lost, the more likely they are to be injured,” Schettler said. “We have to figure out ways for them to be found more quickly.”