The NWT’s health minister says work is ongoing to establish “real consequences for failing to protect Elders and taking advantage of them.”
Julie Green was answering questions from Deh Cho MLA Ron Bonnetrouge, who said there appeared to be “no end in sight” to Elder abuse in communities he represents like Fort Providence.
Green said the territorial government is working with the NWT Seniors’ Society to see how other jurisdictions approach Elder abuse and examine whether the territory’s laws need to be sharpened.
“All of us are concerned about it. What to do about it is not as easy as putting money into a program. It is a set of attitudes that people have toward Elders, in which they are neglected and exploited,” said Green.
“We have been having discussions about whether we could strengthen our regulatory environment around Elder abuse.”
Bonnetrouge recounted anecdotes of Elders being left out of Elder abuse awareness sessions in Fort Providence and claimed an unwillingness on the part of social workers to intervene in some instances.
“There are serious problems here,” he said.
“I have been talking to people in my community this past week, and there are people who work on the ground with them. They have serious reservations about what anybody is actually doing to help the seniors because they are facing [problems] almost on a daily basis, and they don’t know where to go or who to turn to, to help them address these issues of Elder abuse.”
Green said she would look into the MLA’s complaints.
“We need to change attitudes: that we value our Elders,” the minister said.
“We’re not just talking about it, but we are walking that talk in saying that we value our Elders and that we won’t put up with exploitation and neglect.”