“The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) is an independent organization that researches issues and recommends law reform measures to make the law accessible to all Ontario communities”.
In April of 2012 the LCO introduced a report entitled A Framework for the Law as it Affects Older Adults: Advancing Substantive Equality for Older Persons Through Law, Policy and Practice. It became evident during the project that issues surrounding capacity and decision-making are a ‘central priority’ within the community and therefore need to be re-examined. Within decision-making and guardianship laws there appeared to be “considerable concern about how the law was operating in practice, and its impact on the autonomy, security, dignity and inclusion of older adults”.
In a Metro News article, Lauren Bates who is heading the project states that “the Law Commission’s early findings suggest that because the process is so accessible, seniors may fail to grasp that the best person for the job may not be their closest relative”. The article also explains that “unlike some other jurisdictions, Ontario has no mechanisms to keep track of substitute decision-makers, actively monitor their decisions or even inform them that they have been placed in this important role”.
In response, the LCO has undertaken the Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship project to “examine and recommend reforms to Ontario’s legal capacity, decision-making and guardianship laws related to property, personal care and treatment decisions”. The key issues identified by the project are:
- Legal capacity. The project will consider how the standard for legal capacity should be defined and assessed.
- Alternative to substitute decision-making. The project will consider whether approaches, such as co-decision-making or supported-decision-making should be formally included in legislation.
- Processes for appointment and termination of substitute decision-makers. The project will consider whether the processes through which substitute decision-makers (or potentially supporters or co-decision-makers) are appointed or terminated can be made more efficient, accessible, transparent or accountable.
- Roles and responsibilities of those acting for persons who require assistance with decision-making. The project will re-examine the roles and responsibilities of those who act for those who require assistance with decision-making
- Addressing abuse. The project will consider improvements in law, policy and practice to prevent, identify and address abuse or inappropriate activity by substitute decision-makers.
- Dispute resolution and rights enforcement: The project will examine potential improvements to dispute resolution and rights enforcement for this area of the law.
As part of its Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship project the LCO released a discussion paper on June 26, 2014, that is asking for feedback from members of the public. The LCO is interested in hearing about your experiences in this area.
You have until Friday, October 4, to have your say about the current laws of decision-making and guardianship to ensure that older adults who require a power of attorney are protected.