Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Is the British Columbia Government Ever Going to Reform Adult Guardianship Laws?

It's been almost two years since the British Columbia Legislative Assembly passed Bill 29, the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2007 .

One of the purposes of the legislation was to modernize British Columbia's adult guardianship legislation. The need for reform is well set out in this backgrounder published by the Ministry of the Attorney General on April 27, 2006:

Adult Guardianship:

Adult guardianship in British Columbia is currently governed by the Patients Property Act, which is over 40 years old and based on nineteenth century English law.

Highlights of Amendments to Adult Guardianship:

Changes to the Adult Guardianship Act will update the legal framework for adult guardianship and ensure that modern principles of guardianship – autonomy, dignity, and the use of the least intrusive and restrictive approach – apply to court-ordered and statutory guardianship by:

Enhancing procedural fairness in the statutory guardianship framework, for example, by providing a right of review, increasing the right of participation by the adult and providing clear options for terminating guardianship when it is no longer needed.

Providing more options to allow guardianship to be tailored to fit an incapable adult’s circumstances, such as allowing for temporary guardianship or guardianship that has limited powers or duration, and allowing the public guardian and trustee (PGT)* to
transfer statutory guardianship to an adult family member or friend.

Clarifying the powers and obligations of guardians, including the duty to encourage the adult’s involvement in decision making and providing for a new code of practice that will be developed over time to set out best practice guidelines for guardians.

Requiring applicants for guardianship to provide forward looking guardianship plans in place of the more limited information currently required.

Facilitating mobility by easing recognition of guardianship orders made elsewhere in Canada.

Although this legislation was passed, it has not been brought into force.

Today the Government of British Columbia introduced Bill 13, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2009. Bill 13, changes the wording is several parts of the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendment Act, 2009, by replacing references to a "guardian" under the new legislation, with references to a "committee" under the "Patients Property Act."

According to this Government of British Columbia information bulletin published today:

[The] [a]mendments will enable the incapacity planning provisions of the act, relating to advance directives, enduring powers of attorney and representation agreements, to be brought into force independently of the adult guardianship provisions. This will ensure important changes that strengthen incapacity planning instruments can be brought into force without unnecessary delay.

This implies to me that the adult guardianship provisions will be brought into force with "unnecessary delay." It looks like I will have to explain that "committee" means "adult guardian" for a long time to come.

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