April 9, 2014 – The Digital Privacy Act, introduced yesterday in Parliament, will help to protect seniors from fraud and financial abuse, announced the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors).
The Government tabled a new bill in Parliament that will include measures to address rising concerns about financial abuse of seniors. The new legislation will allow banks and other organizations, to notify officials or a client’s next of kin if they suspect that an elderly client is the victim of financial abuse.
Currently, financial institutions must obtain an elderly client’s consent before disclosing information to prevent or investigate abuse, for example where a joint account holder may be financially abusing a senior. Under the new legislation, the financial institution will be allowed to make a report if there is reason to believe that fraud or financial abuse may be taking place. This will make it possible to notify authorities and help protect seniors from financial abuse.
Officials at Industry Canada, with the support of Employment and Social Development Canada, will work together with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to provide guidance to banks and other affected organizations about factors to be considered in using their discretion in this area and about related best practices.
The Government is actively addressing elder abuse through awareness campaigns, the New Horizons for Seniors Program, and the Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act, which came into force in January 2013.
- The Digital Privacy Act amends the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which sets the rules private sector organizations must follow when collecting, using or disclosing personal information in the course of commercial activity.
- The Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act helps ensure consistently tough penalties for those who take advantage of elderly Canadians.
- Some sources suggest that between 4 and 10 percent of older adults in Canada experience some form of abuse. It is also estimated that only one in five incidents of abuse is reported.
“Elder abuse is an appalling crime and our government is committed to protecting seniors from all forms of abuse. I fully support the proposed changes to strengthen Canada’s private sector privacy law and provide added protection for seniors against financial abuse.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)