Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

By Jennifer Nguyen

Earlier in November, the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, in collaboration with the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, hosted the 2017 Canadian Elder Law Conference. In the span of two days, the conference addressed a number of topics ranging from neglect to capacity, evidence, mediation and more. In this blog post, I will provide an overview of the different sessions, panels and speakers, and will focus on emerging ideas that relate to the scope of CNPEA’s current project.

For a full agenda and list of speakers, click here.

Day One
On the first day of the conference, a topic of discussion was the role of the BC Adult Guardianship Act (AGA). The AGA outlines BC’s response to adult abuse and neglect. It enables a process in which the government can step in to help adults when a healthcare provider deems that they are incapable of managing their own financial and legal matters. However there are gaps in the AGA, namely that it does not cover adults with full mental capacity. Margaret Hall, an associate professor at Thompson Rivers University’s Faculty of Law, addressed when the AGA applies and focused her discussion on elder self-neglect.

In another session, Helen Love, from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, discussed the law of evidence in elder law. This is an important discussion in the context of elder abuse. It is a reality that older victims can sometimes die before they can testify, especially with the delays in the criminal justice system. Another concern is how to establish evidence and testimony in situations where the victim cannot testify due to mental incapacities. Her session addressed possible ways that the legal system could adapt to facilitate the difficulties of preserving evidence in elder abuse situations. One possible solution that arises from case law addressed is to gather evidence at the beginning and have that admissible, while the parties are most aware and able to provide evidence.

The Honourable Marion J. Allan, a former justice at the BC Supreme Court and current mediator and arbitrator, and Anita Dorczak, a mediator, hosted a keynote address on the role of mediation in elder abuse cases. Mediation is the process of bringing the victim and the perpetrator together, rather than bringing the case to court. In cases of elder abuse, such a process can be difficult and  traumatic for victims who have to come face-to-face with their abusers. However it can also be beneficial in elder abuse cases because oftentimes, older victims prefer a supportive solution, especially in cases where they know their abusers.

There was also a discussion about the function of guardianship tribunal systems in other jurisdictions to see how one might work in British Columbia. Administrative tribunals are a more informal, less expensive, accessible way that can provide a more timely resolution of disputes. The adjudicators (people who make the decisions) often have specialized knowledge about the topic. The establishment of a guardianship tribunal in BC could improve access to justice for older victims of sexual abuse.

Day Two
The second day of the conference included a debate on whether or not video surveillance should be permitted in long-term care facilities. Al Jina, President of Park Place Senior Living in Vancouver, argued that video surveillance should be permitted as a way to address the evidentiary problems that can arise when victims are non-verbal or have advanced dementia. Counter arguments were made about the privacy of older adults as well as the underlying gender dynamic; the majority of adults in long-term care facilities are women as women tend to live longer than men. Video surveillance of older adults could inadvertently mean video surveillance of women.

Another discussion focused on the intersection of elder law with marriage and finances. questions of capacity arose, that can contribute to a discussion on abuse, for instance in cases of predatory marriages.

Overall, the Canadian Elder Law Conference was a great success, with a  number of pressing topics addressed over the course of two days, and offered a nuanced and creative discussion surrounding elder law.


Publishing Criteria

Any resource posted on the Hub is first screened based on the publishing criteria. If you wish to share a resource with the community, please ensure that it fits the requirements and email it to us. We usually post material within 72hrs of receiving it. 

Publishing Criteria

Invitation to Contribute

Become a contributor to the hub!

  • Share your ongoing projects, research updates and favourite tools
  • Announce your upcoming events
  • Tell us about promising practices and initiatives via a blog post.

Check out our publishing criteria or email us for more information 

Thank You to Our Supporters and Sponsors

Le RCPMTA souhaite remercier les généreux sponsors qui contribuent à la durabilité du connecteur des savoirs.