Tougher penalties needed for elder abuse: CARP

Originally published in the Toronto Sun on March 1st, 2011. To go to the Toronto Sun website please click here

A seniors’ advocacy group is calling for elder abuse to be recognized as a crime under the Criminal Code.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons is pushing for the addition of elder abuse into Canada’s crime books after the discovery of 68-year-old woman who was forced to live in her son’s uninsulated garage.

CARP is also calling on Julian Fantino, the minister of state responsible for seniors, to push for an elder-abuse hot-line, specialized victims’ services and stiffer sentences for those convicted of abusing the elderly.

Susan Eng, CARP’s vice-president of advocacy, said many elder-abuse cases that make it to court don’t necessarily lead to a just outcome because of the “complex” relationships of those involved — parent and child, and in some cases, dependant and guardian.

“Despite the fact that there have been charges laid in this case and … too many other cases like it, prosecutors have difficulty getting either the conviction on one hand, or a serious sentence on the other,” said Eng, a former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board. “Clearly, there’s a need for the criminal law to be more responsive, and if need be, they need to create a new, separate offence of elder abuse.”

CARP also recommended specialized investigative support for current offences where elder abuse is involved and stiffer sentences akin to punishments for hate crimes.

The implementation of these recommendations, said Eng, should be done through a cooperative effort by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Kwong Yan, 43, and his wife, Qi Tan, 28, have each been charged with failure to provide the necessities of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Police alleged they forced Yan’s mother to live in their garage this past winter with little more than a piece of plywood and a mattress for a bed, a portable toilet, a blanket and a box of adult diapers.

“Like all Canadians, I am shocked and disgusted by this … deplorable case,” Fantino said in a statement to the Sun. “This case reminds us that elder abuse is … a real and serious problem.”

© The Toronto Sun

Keywords: elder, abuse, crime