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TORONTO, March 15, 2012 – The Government of Canada announced today the introduction of legislation which will help ensure that sentencing for crimes against elderly Canadians reflects the significant impact that crime has on their lives. The announcement was made by the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; along with the Honourable Alice Wong, M.P. for Richmond and Minister of State (Seniors); and Robert Goguen, M.P. for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

“Our Government has a responsibility to protect elderly Canadians and to ensure that crimes against them are punished appropriately,” said Minister Nicholson. “This legislation will help ensure tough sentences for those who take advantage of vulnerable members of our society.”

“This legislation would further support our Government's common front to combat elder abuse in all forms,” said Minister of State Wong. “Elder abuse will not be tolerated. Our Government is committed to ensuring that Canadians are made aware of this serious issue and that they have the necessary information and support to take action and help prevent abuse.”

Under the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code, evidence that an offence had a significant impact on the victims due to their age - and other personal circumstances such as health or financial situation - would be considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

The amendment would ensure a consistent application of sentencing practices that treat the abuse against individuals who are vulnerable due to their age and other personal circumstances seriously. The Criminal Code already contains similar measures that denounce the abuse of vulnerable persons. For instance, it states that the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen is an aggravating factor at sentencing.

“The interests of law-abiding citizens should always be placed ahead of those of criminals,” said Parliamentary Secretary Goguen. “Our Government will continue to honour our 2011 platform pledge to protect our seniors.”

The Government addresses elder abuse in a number of ways, including its elder abuse awareness campaigns and the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which includes projects to increase awareness. In 2011, the Government increased its investment in the New Horizons for Seniors Program by $5 million per year, bringing the program's annual budget to $45 million.

More information about elder abuse can be found at

Backgrounder: Elder Abuse Legislation