Elder Abuse is unacceptable, in any form

Minister Josephine Pon
Alberta Minister of Seniors and Housing

As Minister of Seniors and Housing, I feel great responsibility for the safety and security of seniors.
It is critically important that Alberta’s government raise awareness of the need to prevent and address elder abuse in Alberta. Because we all need to take strong action on addressing elder abuse.

Prior to 2020, it was estimated that 60,000 Alberta seniors – nearly one in 10 – were subjected to financial, emotional, physical, and other forms of abuse. The stress, isolation, and financial pressures that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic have made a difficult situation worse. We do know that rates of family violence, including elder abuse, tend to increase during and following natural disasters, public health crises, and economic downturns.

It is anecdotal, but we are concerned community organizations, including some of the seniors-serving organizations my ministry routinely consults with, are reporting an increase in both the incidence, complexity, and severity of elder abuse cases in Alberta.

Elder abuse doesn’t just harm individual victims, who often silently endure fear, shame, and retreat into isolation. It leaves a permanent scar on families and erodes communities.

Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring seniors have access to the services and supports they need to live safely and independently in their communities. And our government is committed to new and stronger action to prevent and address elder abuse in Alberta.

Elder abuse is a complex issue that requires a collaborative and cross-sector approach. Seniors-serving stakeholders have identified the lack of a consistently applied definition of elder abuse across the province as a gap in the current system. Our first step is to clearly define the term “elder abuse” with input from community organizations and the public.

We are seeking input from stakeholders and the public on an enhanced definition of elder abuse.

We will use a new definition to improve information sharing and data collection practices. A new definition, to be used in legislation, policies, and programs, will be an foundation for improving the safety and well-being of seniors across the province.

Albertans are invited to provide input into the new definition online at alberta.ca. The Elder Abuse Prevention – Public Engagement Survey is open from October 4 to 25, and I urge you to respond.

Please remember to call 911 if you, or someone you know, is being abused and is in immediate danger. For non-urgent support, information, and referrals, you can call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818.

Elder abuse is unacceptable, in any form, for the individuals who should be the most cherished members in any community. We will work with communities, stakeholders, and Albertans of all ages to strengthen protections for seniors and end elder abuse in all its forms.

Together, we can make sure seniors have the respect and dignity they have earned.

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