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Letter to the Honourable Mr. Dave Hancock Regarding PPCA

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September 15, 2000

The Honourable Mr. David Hancock QC
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Room # 320, Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB. T5K 2B6

Dear Mr. Minister:

Re: PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT

Please note the two page attachment which is a summarization attached of proposed amendments to the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT.

For many years, we have met with various persons of government, in regard to effective, enforceable elder abuse legislation. Some appear to listen but do nothing. Some, like Mr. Jack Davis, then Deputy Minister, laugh and say that we will never get what we are asking for. This morning we have been assured by Ms. Edith Baraniecki RN, SECTION HEAD of the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT INVESTIGATIONS, that no changes will take place in regard to this legislation until at least the year 2002.

Ms. Baraniecki informed us that they would be working up this winter for planned consultations in the spring which would extend across the summer with possible changes to the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT in the year 2002. When we objected and informed her that this was offensive she did not seem to be at all affected.

This agenda is indeed offensive to us.

The time frame is totally unacceptable!

The cost of such proposed hearings is unacceptable.

No one listened to us during the first hearings, why would they listen this time?

This agenda is not in the best interests of the senior persons of this province.

We are aware that elder abuse has been an obvious problem since the early seventies. The problem has been systematically silenced by many areas of government starting with the legislative council which has prepared legislation, since the early seventies, which is nothing more than a sham such as the Health Facilities Review Committee Act and the Social Care Facilities Review Committee Act. Government appointed agencies such as the Office of the Ombudsman, the Alberta Human Rights Commission which does not even include the elderly, staff of the elder care facilities, the Information and Privacy Commission and now the Protection For Persons in Care Act personnel all serve to silence this issue.

Ordinary Albertans and even MLA’s are kept in fear, they are afraid to report. If you recall the meeting you attended with us prior to your being elected as MLA, there were persons from across the province who had come to discuss the matter of elder abuse. There was no media present. A number of the attendees were afraid to give their names and did not do so.

In the mid eighties, I was sued by a large Alberta Nursing Home for hundreds of thousands of dollars. When that law suit was widely publicized in the paper and on TV, it was a loud clear message to everyone, that those who challenge this issue will be harshly dealt with. I spoke publicly because a fourteen page complaint of elder abuse, made to the Alberta Association of Registered Nurses had been summarily dismissed by them. The professional association, without investigating my complaints, sent the unedited complaint to the offending nursing home. The lengthy document quickly ended up in the hands of their lawyer and resulted in the firing of an RN whom I had named as also being concerned about the care.

After actively pursuing me for a year, resulting in exorbitant costs such as numerous days of discovery at over a $1,000.00 a day and extreme personal terror, their lawyer stopped calling me because a patient was beaten to death by another patient at the nursing home and another resident was scalded in a tub of hot water and died two weeks later at the University Hospital. There also had been a suicide from the third floor window which I had become aware of. The law suit was ultimately dismissed and the nursing home had to pay me costs.

At the Fatality Inquiry of the beating death, the nurse who had been on duty gave an implausible account of the happening, the lawyer suppressed evidence and the presiding Judge then wrote an implausible summary of the Inquiry.

When we complained to the Chief Justice, the Edmonton Police Service, the Office of the Crown Prosecutor and our MLA, no one denied that there had been wrong doing. We have correspondence which demonstrates how we were sent from one to the other, however all fudged to keep the matter from being addressed.

Recently, we were assigned $11,000.00 in costs by the surrogate court because we advocated on behalf of an elderly person. The Judge disregarded the facts which had been carefully and extensively documented in our affidavits, perhaps, because he perceived us an irritant in the surrogate court. Because the lawyer involved, summoned us to the Taxation Officer in order to exact payment, we obtained the court transcripts. The transcripts clearly demonstrated that she and the family member had been most untruthful in the court. The Taxation Officer, Mr.A.B. Christensen, though clearly aware that the lawyer had been untruthful in the court and that the elderly person had been abused, granted the lawyer her costs – quantum merit. However, she who mislead justice, stopped pursuing us for the costs. We believe we deserve an apology.

The transcripts also substantiated the complaints which had been made to the the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT personnel and which were dismissed by the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE ACT personnel such as Ms. Baraniecki.

The present PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE Act is nothing more than a rewrite of the Health Facilities Review Committee Act of 1972. Our intent is to have the PROTECTION FOR PERSONS IN CARE legislation amended to be an effective tool to deal with the matter of elder abuse and look to your Office for action in this matter.

We are weary of being abused. The cost has been high. We are weary of groveling for justice.

We would be grateful to be in receipt of an acknowledgement of our concerns and be in such receipt by the 2nd of October, 2000.

Yours most truly,

Elder Advocates of Alberta Society

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