What laws deal with elder abuse?

Region: Ontario Answer # 1721

Crimes against older adults are dealt with in both provincial legislation such as human rights laws and the Federal Criminal Code.

Ontario Human Rights Code

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits actions that discriminate against people based on a protected ground in a protected social area.

Protected grounds are:

  • Age
  • Ancestry, colour, race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Place of origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status (including single status)
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Receipt of public assistance (in housing only)
  • Record of offences (in employment only)
  • Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Sexual orientation

Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee Act

The Public Guardian and Trustee Act serves to protect vulnerable adults, including older adults who may be victims of financial and other types of elder abuse. If you are a vulnerable person at risk of harm, abuse or neglect, or suspect someone else is, you can call the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) Investigations line at 416-327-6348.

Ontario Victims’ Bill of Rights

The Victims’ Bill of Rights details the rights of all victims of crime, including older adults, throughout the criminal justice process.

For example, victims of crime must:

  • be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy;
  • have access to information concerning services and remedies available to victims, such as compensation;
  • have access to information about the progress of criminal investigations
  • have information about the release of an accused on bail;
  • the sentence given to an accused, if convicted

For a full list of rights, visit the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, or view the law here.

Ontario Retirement Homes Act

Under the Ontario Retirement Homes Act, 2010 it is mandatory for people to report elder abuse to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) if they suspect harm to retirement home residents. A person is guilty of an offence if they fail to report elder abuse. Retirement home residents may report, but they are not required to.

Ontario Long-Term Care Homes Act

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.

For more information on these two laws, view topic 1723 Elder abuse in long-term care and retirement homes

Other provincial legislation

Visit the Government of Canada, Department of Justice Legal Definitions of Elder Abuse and Neglect website. It provides comprehensive information on provincial legislation, reporting authorities, and definitions of abuse. Information on other legislation is also available in our Links and Resources.

Canadian Criminal Code

While the Criminal Code does not contain the specific offence of “elder abuse”, certain types of elder abuse can be a crime and as such, are punishable under the Code. These may include:

  • Physical abuse, such as assault;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Neglect, including negligence causing bodily harm or the failure to provide the necessities of life;
  • Uttering threats;
  • Criminal harassment;
  • Theft of power of attorney;
  • Fraud; and
  • Theft

Under section 718.2 of the Code, for the purpose of sentencing the court must consider, as aggravating factors, evidence that the offence was motivated by age- or disability-based bias, prejudice or hate. Visit the Criminal Law section of Legal Line for more information on Criminal Code offences.

More info

For more information, visit other sections of Seniors/Elder Law. For further resources view our Links, or visit the Government of Canada’s website at justice.gc.ca.

For legal help, contact a lawyer.


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