The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse applauds the federal government for making good on an election promise to make elder abuse prevention a priority but knows this is just one piece of the puzzle.
On April 15th 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had announced that a re-elected Conservative government would crack down on those who commit crimes against seniors. He said a Conservative government would ensure that the Criminal Code of Canada includes a provision to add age to the list of aggravating factors courts must consider when issuing a sentence.
That is exactly what happened yesterday. On March 15, 2012 the Government of Canada announced the introduction of legislation which will help ensure that sentencing for crimes against elderly Canadians reflects the significant impact that crime has on their lives. Under the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code, evidence that an offence had a significant impact on the victims due to their age – would be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
Teri Kay, Executive Director of ONPEA knows this is a much needed step for elder abuse awareness but urges government of all levels to keep prevention initiatives on the forefront and the momentum moving. “The new legislation will help with cases before the courts but won’t impact reports of elder abuse. Most seniors are reluctant to report elder abuse for fear the abuser (usually a child or relative) will go to jail. This legislation won’t increase reporting but it will help to raise awareness about the issue. Resources and services like our Seniors Safety Line and community programs are important steps in helping seniors understand their options. Need to understand that elder abuse is not just fraud and violence; it includes emotional, psychological, sexual abuse and neglect. The way to increase reporting is talk about the issue and try to remove the shame.”
ONPEA is certain that more public education, professional training for police and front-line workers, advocacy and support for care-giving families are essential to decrease these staggering rates of abuse as this segment of the population grows. By investing in programs and education to recognize signs of elder abuse we can prevent many cases before they reach a criminal act and decrease associated costs in the future. Compared to other abuse programs throughout the province and country, elder abuse is far less funded and needs to be addressed now.
The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) is dedicated to raising awareness of elder abuse and neglect, through public education, professional training, advocacy, and service coordination. In addition to implementing Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse, ONPEA supports a growing number of vital projects and research in elder abuse and neglect prevention.
ONPEA was founded in 1989 and was incorporated as a charitable organization in 1992. ONPEA is governed by a voluntary Board of 12 members representing professionals, service providers, community organizations, volunteers, seniors and aboriginal groups. It has mounted numerous initiatives of regional, national and international nature. Charitable # 88900 0790 RR0001
For more information regarding the Senior Safety Line (1-866-299-1011) and the critical work of The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (ONPEA) please visit www.onpea.org. Please also visit www.acupoftea.ca for more information on ONPEA’s on-going fundraising efforts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
Karen Coons | 416.500.2373 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Mead | 416.916.6728