24-08-A — Criminal Code Amendments to combat Elder Abuse

WHEREAS rates of violence against older people increased by 22% between 2010 and 2020;

WHEREAS the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the prevalence of abuse and neglect of older people in long-term care;

WHEREAS in 2011, the CBA opposed a new Criminal Code offence of elder abuse and urged all levels of government to work with community experts to develop a framework for the prevention of and appropriate responses to elder abuse and neglect;

WHEREAS Criminal Code offences including ‘theft by a person holding power of attorney’ (section 331) and ‘failure to provide the necessities of life’ (section 215) may address some forms of elder abuse, but do not adequately address other prevalent forms, such as social isolation and institutional neglect;

WHEREAS many older victims cannot access civil remedies due to barriers such as lack of financial resources or legal aid, and health and mental capacity issues that limit their ability to instruct counsel and participate in litigation;

WHEREAS reports such as the 2021 House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee Report, Elder Abuse: Identifying the Issue and Combatting All Types of Abuse recommend Criminal Code reform;

WHEREAS new Criminal Code offences may be appropriate to address issues related to elder abuse generally and would enhance awareness and punishment, deter perpetrators and better protect older people;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Canadian Bar Association:

  1. clarify that resolution 11-10-A, Response to Elder Abuse, opposes a new Criminal Code offence of “elder abuse” but does not oppose any new offences related to elder abuse generally;
  2. support potential Criminal Code reform and offences related to elder abuse to support prosecution of people who harm older people; and
  3. urge the federal government to enact legislation to address gaps in the Criminal Code to better address all forms of elder abuse.

Moved by Elder Law Section

Download the Resolution