Canada is the world’s second-largest country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Canada is the world’s eleventh-largest economy and ranking above the US and most western European nations on the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom. It also has a relatively low economic disparity. It also has 13% of the global oil reserves, the world’s third-largest, after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
Canada’s population is diverse racially, in fact, it has one of the highest rates of immigration in the world. Canada, according to a 2012 NBC report, is the most educated country in the world.
Despite all of this, Canada shares the same concerns regarding elder abuse as its neighbor, the United States.
Elder abuse is a growing problem in Canada. In fact, it has launched many awareness projects in its provinces and territories. It is estimated that almost one of every 10 older Canadians experiences some form of abuse. This number is similar to the United States’ statistics. Also, about 7 in 10 crimes against older Canadians are not reported to police, mainly because victims didn’t think they needed help. In the rare instance when someone is convicted of abusing an elderly person, sentences are often lenient, says Susan Eng, who heads up the CARP seniors’ advocacy group. CARP is the Canadian equivalent of the United States’ AARP group.
Here some facts regarding this growing concern in Canada:
- Based on police-reported data, nearly 2,800 seniors aged 65 years and older were the victims of family violence in 2010. Presented as a rate, the senior population had the lowest risk of violence compared to any other age group, irrespective of whether the incident involved a family member or someone outside the family.
- Overall, seniors were most at risk from friends or acquaintances (73 victims per 100,000 seniors), followed by family members (61 victims per 100,000) and strangers (51 victims per 100,000). Grown children were most often identified as the perpetrator of family violence against seniors.
- In 2010, the rate of spousal violence for senior women was more than double the male rate (22 versus 10 per 100,000 population). Senior women were also slightly more likely than senior men to be victimized by their children in 2010 (27 per 100,000 versus 24 per 100,000 population).
- In 2010, two-thirds (67%) of incidents of family violence against seniors involved physical assaults, a larger proportion than the share of non-family violence incidents (45%).
- For both sexes, grown children were the most common perpetrators of family violence (39% of women and 46% of men). This was particularly the case when the violence escalated to the killing of seniors. Over the past decade, half (50%) of all family homicides against seniors were committed by grown children.
- Despite annual fluctuations, rates of family homicides against seniors have been relatively steady over the previous fifteen years. Rates of family and non-family homicides against seniors are at near parity in recent years.
- The leading motives for family homicides of seniors were frustration and the escalation of an argument (32% and 26%). In contrast, financial gain was the leading motive in non-family homicides, reflecting the finding that one-quarter of all non-family homicides against seniors were committed during the commission of a robbery.
The Royal Canadian Mountain Police works with other government agencies, private sector partners and local communities to develop prevention and awareness information, tools and resources for both the public and police to better recognize and respond to elder abuse.
Recently in Toronto, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and seniors minister Alice Wong announced amendments to the Criminal Code. This will impose stiffer penalties for those who commit crimes against the elderly.
As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.
Please feel free to leave your questions or comment