FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Missing Persons Act was proclaimed today, making it possible for police to launch a missing persons investigation sooner.

The new legislation can help law enforcement find a missing person when no criminal investigation is underway.

“As any police officer will tell you, seconds count when it comes to finding a missing person,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin. “The Missing Persons Act has the potential to literally save lives. I would like to thank my colleagues Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn and Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace, who is also minister responsible for women’s equality, for bringing this important issue to my attention.”

When law enforcement agencies begin a missing person investigation, they often have no reason to suspect a crime has been committed. Before the legislation was proclaimed, they could not compel people or corporations to release personal information about the missing person, which might result in stalling or halting an investigation.

Under the act, once a person is established as missing, police officers can request information contained in a person’s records with an emergency/urgent demand, an order for the production of records, or a search warrant. The following information can be requested:

·         records related to signals from a wireless device that may indicate the location of the device

·         cellphone records

·         all forms of instant messaging

·         global positioning system tracking records

The legislation stipulates that access to this information would have to be granted by the courts. This provision is intended to ensure a proper balance between enabling law enforcement agencies to investigate and protecting fundamental privacy rights.

Dunn said the legislation fulfils one of the recommendations from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and is another important step in keeping New Brunswickers safe.

“I am so pleased that this important legislation is finally being proclaimed today,” said Dunn. “Indigenous women and girls in Canada are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, and government has a responsibility to do everything in their power to prevent this violence and to improve the safety of Indigenous women and girls. The new Missing Persons Act is a good step forward in our commitment to doing that.”