Recently, Bill C-36 was introduced in the House of Commons specifically to address issues of elder abuse. If passed into law, it will amend the Criminal Code to allow the Court to consider evidence of the impact of the offence on the victim, considering their age and other personal circumstances such as financial circumstances. In this way, it is thought that the Court will impose a harsher sentence on people convicted of the offence if it involves elder abuse.
Critics are questioning whether the proposed changes are sufficient. In my view, the fact the Bill is making headlines, including in the National Post and Victoria’s Times Colonist, shows progress, in that there is an increased awareness of elder abuse. However, I agree that we are not yet “there”. This legislation relates only to criminal offences, and will have no direct impact on the civil claims that we as estate and trust lawyers often see, and perhaps no direct influence on those vulnerable older adults who are dependant on the caregiver or family member who is taking advantage of them.
Bill C-36 is a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. Hopefully, there will be a continued focus on elder abuse that will lead to changes in increased community support and facilities to assist vulnerable older adults.