Thursday, December 13, 2007

Report of the National Seniors Council on Elder Abuse

The National Seniors Council has issued its report on elder abuse. The National Seniors Counsel was established last March to advise the Government of Canada. Its initial priorities are: "to develop ways to raise awareness of elder abuse and combat this issue;and to better understand the factors that lead to pockets of low-income seniors among unattached seniors, particularly women." This report follows regional meetings involving experts and stakeholders in five cities across Canada.

There is an interesting discussion in the report about how privacy legislation may impede the reporting of abuse. The report says at page 12, in reference to federal privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, SC 2000, c. 5,

As a result, industries in the federally-regulated private sector have taken steps to ensure that they are not in violation of privacy regulations. However, examples were provided of instances where banks were reluctant to report suspected cases of possible fraud or abuse of power of attorney, claiming that they were unable to do so due to restrictions placed upon them as a result of privacy legislation. As well, healthcare professionals reported that there is reluctance to report possible physical or psychological abuse of elders for fear of repercussions due to infractions of privacy legislation.

Legal experts informed the National Seniors Council of the need to clarify whether reporting a suspicion of elder abuse violates current privacy legislation. The National Seniors Council was asked to consider how the federal government might be able to work with these sectors to ensure they understand the application of privacy legislation.

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