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Elder abuse: The hidden crime

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When does elder abuse have to be reported?

Long-term care homes and retirement homes

The law says that abuse must be reported when the victim lives in a long‑term care home or a retirement home.

People must report if they know or suspect that a resident has been, or might be, harmed by:

  • improper or incompetent treatment or care
  • abuse by anyone, including staff, family, other visitors, or other residents
  • neglect by staff or the owner of the home
  • someone misusing their money or committing fraud against them
  • someone misusing or committing fraud with public funds given to a long-term care home
  • other illegal behaviour

The only people who do not have to report abuse are other residents of the home. This means that people visiting a home must report, even if the person they are visiting is not the one being abused.

Social workers and members of health-care professions that are regulated by the government must report, even if it is information they would normally keep confidential.

How to report

If the victim lives in a long-term care home, the abuse must be reported to the Director at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care at 1-866-434-0144. Long-term care homes are sometimes called nursing homes or homes for the aged.

If the victim lives in a retirement home, the abuse must be reported to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority at 1-855-275-7472.

The Director or the Registrar must look into all reports of abuse. They must send an inspector to the home immediately if the report is about harm or risk of harm due to:

  • improper or incompetent treatment or care
  • abuse of a resident by anyone
  • neglect of a resident by staff or the owner of the home
  • other illegal behaviour

The operator of a long-term care home or a retirement home must contact the police immediately if someone alleges, suspects, or witnesses abuse that may be a crime.

Other places

If the victim of elder abuse does not live in a long-term care home or retirement home, the law does not require anyone to report the abuse. But sometimes, a person's job responsibilities or professional code of conduct might require them to report.

Victims, or anyone else who suspects elder abuse, can report their concerns to the police or to health or social services, or get advice from a lawyer. No matter where abuse and serious neglect happens, it may be a crime.

People can report abuse to Crime Stoppers at 1-800‑222-8477 or the Seniors Safety Line at 1-866‑299-1011.

The Seniors Safety Line gives information about local agencies across the province that can help when there is elder abuse. And they have trained counsellors who can provide safety planning and supportive counselling to older adults who are being abused or are at risk of being abused.