Elder abuse in long-term care and retirement homes

Region: Ontario Answer # 1723

In Ontario, it is mandatory to report when abuse of an older adult is suspected or has occurred in a Long-term Care Home or a Retirement Home.

Who must report abuse?

Everyone, including retirement staff, volunteers, family, care home directors and operators, substitute decision makers, and service providers, are obligated to report abuse or suspected abuse. Retirement home residents may report, but they are not required to. Even if the information on which a report may be based is confidential or privileged, members of regulated health care professions, social workers, and naturopaths must report the abuse.

What is the law?

In Ontario, elder abuse in long-term care homes and retirement homes is dealt with in two separate laws: the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 and the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007. Under both Acts, abuse or suspected abuse must be reported if it involves:

  1. Improper or incompetent treatment or care of a resident that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to the resident.
  2. Abuse of a resident by anyone or neglect of a resident by the licensee or the staff of the home of the resident if it results in harm or a risk of harm to the resident.
  3. Unlawful conduct that resulted in harm or a risk of harm to a resident.
  4. Misuse or misappropriation of a resident’s money.
  5. Misuse or fraud involving public funding provided to the home (long-term care homes only).

Retirement Homes Act, 2010

Under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, people who have reasonable grounds to suspect harm to retirement home residents must report it to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). The RHRA is responsible for licensing and regulating retirement homes on behalf of government. The Registrar will review the information to determine if an inspector will visit the retirement home to investigate the allegation. The RHRA will ask for:

  • the name of the home
  • a description of what happened
  • when and where it happened (e.g., inside or outside the home, where in the home)
  • who was involved

For more information:

The Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007

Under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 when a person has reasonable grounds to suspect that harm to a long-term care home resident has occurred or may occur it must immediately be reported to the Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care:

A person is guilty of an offence if they fail to report elder abuse in a long-term care home or retirement home. For more information, including offences and penalties, view the legislation.

More info

Many provinces also have Adult Protection legislation that covers older adults who are at risk of harm in care homes. Visit our Links to view this legislation, and for more information on elder abuse and Seniors/Elder Law.

Visit the Government of Canada, Department of Justice Legal Definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect website for comprehensive information on all provincial legislation (including for care homes), reporting authorities, and definitions of abuse. More information on elder abuse is also available from the Government of Canada’s website at justice.gc.ca.

For legal help, contact a lawyer.


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