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Financial abuse
of vulnerable
people, including seniors and the
disabled, can take many forms. The
misuse of a power of attorney has
devastating consequences for the
elderly because it can take away their
savings, their property, and even the
arrangements which they have made
for personal care.
I have introduced Private Member’s
legislation (Bill 21) that attempts to
raise awareness and also provides
some new measures to protect
vulnerable individuals.
My bill has initiatives that govern
accountability of those who serve
as power of attorney. One of these
measures is the option that a
continuing power of attorney provide
an annual accounting of financial
information to the public guardian
and trustee. This information could
include the assets and liabilities of
the person who granted the power
of attorney and disclosure of any
compensation taken by the “attorney.”
Bill 21 also proposes a register of
persons serving as power of attorney.
Someone who grants a power of
attorney can choose to forward the
name and contact information of their
attorney to the registry, where the
information could be viewed by other
family members. The current Ontario
Power of Attorney Kit can easily be
downloaded and easily presented as
In my bill, there is also a requirement
that only one witness to a power of
attorney document may be a relative
of the person granting the power of
The full name of my legislation is
Bill 21, Protection of Vulnerable and
Elderly People from Abuse Act (Powers
of Attorney), 2011.
It has been tabled
for first reading, but has not yet
proceeded to second reading at
which debate and discussion can take
place. I introduced similar legislation
in a previous session of the Ontario
parliament that was debated at
second reading and referred to a
standing committee. It was not called
at committee because of the election.
The challenge is to protect vulnerable
persons from financial abuse, while
also respecting the privacy of
individuals and families. Since the
majority of persons serving as power
of attorney are trusted friends and
family, we want to ensure that they
are not facing undue red tape which
would get in the way of the wishes of
the individuals whom they represent.
At the same time, it is important to
protect vulnerable individuals from
financial abuse.
I would appreciate feedback regarding
people who have had experience
with the power of attorney process.
Suggestions that you may have
regarding Bill 21 would be welcome.
I can be reached by e-mail at
Private Member’s Bill Proposes Safeguards
for Ontario Powers of Attorney
John O’Toole, MPP (center) with CSA
Past President Gerry Brissenden and
Ontario CSA Director Karen Huestis.
By John R. O’Toole,
MPP Durham