Partners seek improved public access to AEDs in Quebec

Actor Robert Marien teams up with Heart & Stroke and Jacques de Champlain Foundation

Heart & Stroke, the Jacques de Champlain Foundation and actor Robert Marien, a survivor of cardiac arrest, are calling on the Ministry of Health and Social Services to implement the recommendations of the Comité national de transformation du système préhospitalier d’urgence for the transformation of the pre-hospital system. Together, they are advocating for provincial legislation to increase public access to defibrillation through the deployment of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places. They are also in support of establishing an AED registry with mandatory registration.

It is estimated that 35,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada, or one every 15 minutes. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. “Quick CPR and AED use can double a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. It goes without saying that AEDs save lives; it’s crucial to have more of them in public spaces and for people to know how to use them,” says Kevin Bilodeau, Director, Government Relations, Quebec, at Heart & Stroke.

Actor, singer and director Robert Marien knows first-hand the importance of good public access to AEDs. On October 5, 2021, he suffered a cardiac arrest while playing hockey. “I was heading to the end of the rink when my heart stopped. Everything happened very fast after that. My teammates, a parent and another player quickly began CPR and ran to get the arena’s AED. The AED recommended shocking me, and I came to before the ambulance arrived. I was very lucky! I am extremely grateful to everyone who was part of my chain of survival, and I understand better than ever the importance of having access to AEDs in all public and remote locations. Simply put, there should be as many AEDs in public places as there are fire extinguishers.” 

On top of installing AEDs in public places, Heart & Stroke, the Jacques de Champlain Foundation and Robert Marien are also calling for a provincial mandatory registry for locating AEDs. “The beauty of AEDs is that they are safe and easy to use for anyone, even if they don’t have prior training. All you have to do is turn it on and follow the voice prompts,” explains Dr. François de Champlain, President, Jacques de Champlain Foundation and an emergency physician. “That said, what good are AEDs if nobody knows where they are? The Jacques de Champlain Foundation implemented a provincial registry and the AED-Quebec app in 2015. It’s a good start, but registration is voluntary when it should be mandatory. Access and maintenance should also be better regulated.”

Strategic placement of AEDs in urban, rural and remote communities is the best way to ensure people are protected. Heart & Stroke, the Jacques de Champlain Foundation and Robert Marien are anxious to see the law implemented quickly so that they can help save more Quebecers who suffer cardiac arrests. 

Learn how to use an AED in three simple steps

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight to beat heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.  @HeartandStroke

About the Jacques de Champlain Foundation

Founded in 2009, the Jacques de Champlain Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims by optimizing access to and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

How does it accomplish its mission?
1.  It promotes legislation on public access to AEDs.
2.  It maintains a provincial registry on the location of AEDs.
3.  It makes its data public and available to stakeholders in the chain of survival.


Maryse Bégin