Elder Abuse – ‘Duty To Report’ should be enshrined in law


Unanimous agreement, Canada needs ‘Duty To Report’ elder abuse enshrined in law: CARP Poll™

February 12, 2015

TORONTO, ON: There is virtually unanimous agreement among CARP members that Canada needs a mandated ‘Duty to Report” for professionals who suspect elder abuse of the person in their care. This must be coupled with whistleblower protection and a specialized agency to respond to the reports as well as adequate supports and services. A model already exists in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and other provinces should follow suit.

In the CARP Poll:

  • 95% of CARP members support a duty to report elder abuse
  • 80% think a duty to report should be part of the professional’s practice protocols (35%) or be mandated by law (45%)
  • 79% think it is more important to protect vulnerable adults and prevent abuse even if there is a risk of interfering in the lives older adults

CARP calls on government to legislate a ‘Duty to Report’ elder abuse with whistleblower protection and resources to investigate and respond to such reports. A model already exists in two Canadian provinces: Nova Scotia’s Adult Protection Act and Newfoundland’s Adult Protection Act, which came into effect in June 2014. The Newfoundland Adult Protection Act obligates everyone to report, not just professionals, and a failure to report can lead to a fine up of to $10,000 or a year in prison, or both. Additionally, it supports the Duty to Report with a 1-855 hotline, specialized investigative support, whistle blower protection, trained social workers, and social, healthcare, financial and other supports and services for the affected individual and the family. The Act is based on similar legislation in Nova Scotia.

CARP calls for a comprehensive strategy to eradicate elder abuse: of which the duty to report is a part along with an elder abuse hot line, caregiver support, specialized investigative and prosecution resources and victim services.

Detection of elder abuse is a critical element in preventing harm and saving lives. Elder abuse is significantly under-reported for many reasons: shame, not wanting to alienate the family member who may also be a caregiver, not wanting to interfere in another person’s family situation, fear of potential repercussions. According to Statistics Canada, 7 out of 10 crimes against older Canadians are never reported.

The first step in eradicating elder abuse is to uncover it since it happens most often within the home. Without a clear legislated mandate and protections, most people hesitate to report or act on their suspicions and if there is to be a duty to report, there must be someone with the resources and duty to respond. We can talk all we want about wanting to end elder abuse but we have to take at least this first step. For CARP members, this is a ballot issue”, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy, CARP.

According to CARP members:

  • One third of members (31%) report knowing a senior who has been abused
  • Few (3%) report being abused themselves
  • Half (51%) of our members do not think the provinces, under whose jurisdiction most elder abuse protection initiatives fall, have made much or any progress in combatting elder abuse. A minority (14%) say some provinces have begun to act
  • 70% of CARP members said that they would hold their vote from a candidate who does not support comprehensive anti-elder abuse legislation and funding

CARP recommends a ‘Duty to Report’ for professionals who interact with elderly and dependent adults, with clear guidelines for action, intervention and protection, along with adding professional capacity to investigate such reports. Do you agree or disagree a ‘Duty to Report’ is necessary for professionals who deal with elderly and dependent adults?

   Agree strongly    62%
   Agree    33%
   Disagree     2%
   Disagree strongly    1%
DON’T KNOW    3%


What is the best way to implement a ‘Duty to Report’ for professionals who deal with dependent adults?

Enshrine ‘Duty To Report’ in law 45%
Mandated by professional associations/agencies 35%
Encourage as social goal/not mandated 14%


Some say a “Duty to Report” risks infantilizing seniors and limits professionals’ freedom of action, while others say it may be necessary to counter the power imbalance that often exists between a dependent adult and a caregiver. Which of these two positions do you support?


Infantilizes/limits freedom of action 3%
Necessary to counter power imbalance 79%


Elder abuse can be physical abuse, verbal and psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Have you, or has anyone you know ever been a victim of elder abuse?

  December 2011 October 2012 June2013 January2015
YES 34% 37% 38% 34%
   Me    2%    4%    3%    3%
   Someone I know    32%    33%    35%    31%
NO 66% 62% 60% 65%

Many of CARP’s recommendations for further action against elder abuse fall under provincial jurisdiction, including a duty to report, an elder abuse reporting hotline, victim services and investigation/prosecution support. How much progress is being made by the provinces on combating elder abuse?

   Great deal, provinces lead effort    1%
   Some, provinces have begun to act    14%
   Not very much, minor efforts only    22%
   Very little, provinces not doing enough    26%
   None    3%


More than 1200 CARP Poll™ online panel members responded to this poll between January 28 and 31, 2015. The margin of error for a probability sample this size is about plus or minus 3%, 19 times out of 20

CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Park   416.607.2471
Director, Communications
[email protected]

Michael Nicin   416.607.2479
Director of Policy
[email protected]

Anna Sotnykova  416.607.2475
Media & Communications Coordinator
[email protected]
CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada
or visit our website: www.carp.ca
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