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Ottawa Employment, Elder and Municipal Law Blog

Elder abuse: Ontario nursing home waits for assist order lift

An Ontario nursing home which has been operating with the help of a care group ordered by the provincial government, is waiting for the order to be lifted. Operations at Hogarth Riverview Manor in Thunder Bay, Ontario have been overseen by Extendicare Assist as per a directive coming down from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MHLTC) in November of last year. The 544-bed facility was in noncompliance of resident care, so the order was initiated in part to keep seniors safe from elder abuse.

The nursing home, under the umbrella of the St. Joseph's Care Group (SJCG), has been making improvements to its operations and adhering to the ministry's reporting practices, according to SJCG president She is not sure, however, when Extendicare Assist will be stepping away from helping the facility. Their involvement has become less prominent as Hogarth continues to adhere to MHLTC practices.

Elder abuse in Ontario: Senior monetary rip-offs on the rise

It used to be that the elderly were protected, but it's becoming more and more commonplace to hear of financial predators taking advantage of unsuspecting senior citizens. Financial elder abuse among the older set in Ontario is on the rise, and the internet has made it easier to prey upon those who are trusting. An American study conducted in 2014 showed that about 37 percent of seniors were defrauded financially, while a 2016 study put the figure at around $36,000 USD for each case.

Many of these cases actually involve unscrupulous financial brokers intent in maintaining seven-figure incomes and who resort to defrauding seniors to do so. It seems people try to take advantage of the elderly at every opportunity. A recent newspaper article told the story of a woman who moved her mom into an assisted living facility. The elderly woman had dementia, and she obviously didn't realize that her brokerage account -- worth more than $1 million -- was charged $128,000 in fees over the last 12 months. 

Does making a worker don risque garb violate employee rights?

Asking an employee to wear certain types of clothing on the job may be a big no-no. It could actually be infringing upon employee rights in Ontario. Some restaurant chains have been taken to task for allegedly making their female staff wear clothing that could be construed as being in violation of women's rights. Some women have been afraid to speak up, fearing they would lose their jobs if they did.

But more women are letting their displeasure over it be heard loud and clear. Some have stood up and called out their employers for insisting they wear clothes that they say make it difficult to do their jobs properly, are sexist and invite sexual harassment. These women say they don't want the unwanted attention wearing risque clothing often brings.

Employee rights: Worker gets thousands in wrongful dismissal case

A Canadian man was recently awarded $28,000 in damages in a wrongful dismissal case. The court didn't buy the assertion of the former safety manager's Alberta employer, who said the man quit or that there was just cause for firing him. Most employee rights in Canada are protected by employment laws of their province and territory, and it is mandatory that places of employment in Ontario and in the rest of the country place an Employment Standards Act poster where all employees can see it.

In this particular case, the court was presented with evidence in the form of an email from the employer to the employee that said for him not to come in and to consider the email as being his two-week notice. The court viewed this as a definite dismissal. The court also sided with the employee that he did complete what the employer asked of him, and even if he hadn't, it didn't look like the company suffered.

Elder abuse: Nursing homes were in good standing during murders

Elizabeth Wettlaufer has become notorious for fatally poisoning nursing home residents. The 50-year-old nurse took elder abuse to the nth degree at three nursing homes in Woodstock, London and Paris, Ontario, from 2007 to 2014 by murdering eight residents. These particular nursing homes were Level 1, which means the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care considered them to be in good standing.

This ranking translates to mean that these particular homes don't register as having a history of being noncompliant and as such don't need to be inspected as intensely keeping in line with the Long Term Care Act in Ontario. Homes are designated Level 2 or 3 if they fall below 70 per cent in their performance analysis, and these homes are closely watched and reassessed. Eighty-five per cent of all nursing homes in Ontario are at Level 1.

Estate beneficiary advice: Keeping assets from kids' ex-spouses

Parents who have accumulated a sizable amount of wealth over their lives will likely want to pass their assets on to their children when they pass away. But when an adult child's marriage goes sideways and ends in divorce, those parents may want to ensure that none of their assets go to the estranged partner. Some solid estate beneficiary advice for Ontario residents when it comes to this type of issue is to make safeguards in a will.

Also, should parents wish to provide a loan for a downpayment on a home, they could do so with a promissory note that stipulates if the couple splits up, the money must be paid back in full. If the marriage lasts, the loan can be forgiven. There are other issues, too, that may need looking into. For instance, parents who provide their kids with money each year to help them with their family needs may want to know that a former spouse could bring a claim against these funds. These kinds of dependency claims could be averted by having the parents stagger the funds or set up a discretionary trust in the adult child's name.

Can long-term disability affect employment contracts in Ontario?

There may be many reasons an employee misses work. But when employees in Ontario are off work for an extended period, can their employment contracts be affected? There are certain instances when employers may claim frustration over a contract even when the employee is on long-term disability.

In one instance that went before the courts, an employee had been working for a company for 10 years when a medical condition caused him to take a leave of absence. The insurance company approved his claim for long-term disability and advised the company for which he worked that he was permanently disabled for any occupation. Three years after the man had been on disability, his employer let him go, claiming frustration of contract.

Predatory marriage terrible form of elder abuse

There are many ways of taking advantage of an unsuspecting and trusting senior citizen. But probably one of the more heinous instances of elder abuse involves predatory marriage. Some people will stop at nothing to get to a senior citizen's money – even feigning affection that could ultimately lead to marriage. Sadly, this practice is becoming more prevalent in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

As formal partners, spouses will use their status to bilk seniors out of money that is in joint accounts. They will also get their names on a matrimonial home and may even convince their senior spouses to cut people out of their wills. Many Ontario seniors may not be aware that any existing will they have can actually be revoked when they re-marry. They may not realize the need to fashion a new will.

Spotting the subtler signs of elder abuse in Ontario

Sometimes the signs that a senior citizen is in trouble can be very subtle, while in other instances it can be absolutely glaring. It's important for people to be able to spot those subtleties when it comes to elder abuse in Ontario. It could mean saving the life of someone vulnerable.

Abuse can take many ugly forms. A senior doesn't have to be bruised and battered to be suffering from abuse. Often the signs go unnoticed. These can range from such things as over-sedation and dehydration to depression, anxiety and isolation. Taking advantage of a senior financially can also be considered abuse. 

Elder abuse in Ontario is on the rise

Unfortunately, it appears that abuse against elders is on the rise in Ontario. The Sarnia-Lambton Elder Abuse Awareness Network (SLEAAN) is doing its part to try to keep seniors safe, and they say that all people, regardless of age, need to take the problem more seriously. This abuse can come in many forms, including physical, sexual, financial, emotional or spiritual abuse or through neglect.

A SLEAAN spokesperson recently gave a talk at a local Kiwanis Club meeting about how to identify those who are suffering from elder abuse. What most people don't realize is that when they treat an elderly person like a child, that too could actually be considered elder abuse. In addition, other forms can include not giving someone his or her medication, pilfering money or physical assault.