CARP advocates for the right to personal dignity, physical and mental well-being, freedom and security and that includes the eradication of elder abuse. Elder abuse can be described as exploiting any vulnerability due to age, whether infirmity, dependency or trusting nature, and manifests in physical, emotional and financial abuse.
Research and public awareness are important tools but there is an urgent need for concrete action. CARP members agree.
April Lewis, a British Columbia CARP representative from White Rock/Surrey, had the opportunity of presenting CARP’s request for action to the federal Minister of Justice, the Honourable Rob Nicholson and the Minister of State for Seniors, MP Alice Wong at a recent round table discussion hosted by Kerry-Lynne Findlay, MP for Delta-Richmond East.
Local politicians as well as representatives from various agencies working with seniors also attended. Each participant spoke about the plethora of issues which affect seniors including pensions, poverty and transportation.
Ms. Lewis focused on the agenda which was elder abuse and stressed the need for action now on this insidious social problem.
CARP has previously called on The Minister of Justice and his provincial counterparts to do more to detect, investigate and prosecute elder abuse. CARP’s action plan which recommends the following six points was presented to the Ministers:
1. Elder Abuse Hot Line – a single point of first contact: 911 or 1-800 line; CARP has partnered with Crimestoppers to provide one such hotline
2. Duty to Report – modeled on child abuse and spouse abuse protocols
3. Specialized Investigative Support for existing criminal offences.
4. Increased Sentencing for elder abuse; modeled on existing provisions for hate crimes and breach of trust.
5. New Criminal Offence of Elder Abuse if warranted following review.
6. Victim Support Services and Elder Shelters
The Justice Minister spoke of the great strides his Conservative government has made in the areas of white collar crime and in raising the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors.
The Seniors’ Minister spoke of the awareness and education programs her Ministry has put forward within the parameters of the New Horizons grants.
Ms. Lewis acknowledged the aforementioned initiatives but asked the Minister of Justice directly when we might expect definitive action from his Government on elder abuse. His answer was to “stay tuned” as there will be a busy agenda in the House of Commons this fall.
CARP members are watching Mr. Minister!