Une meilleure vie grâce à l’engagement, à l’éducation, et à la recherche.
Changing lives through advocacy, education, and research.
The Elder Law Clinic / La Clinique juridique des aînés, (the “Clinic”), a division of the National Institute of Law, Policy and Aging / l’Institut national du droit, de la politique et du vieillissement, formally opened on May 1, 2007 at the Institut de Gériatrie de Montréal. The Clinic has since moved to a new downtown location.
The Clinic is dedicated to research, education and advocacy of legal issues of aging and, in particular, to responding to the law–related needs of older Quebec adults. The Clinic serves older persons, those providing services to or representing older adults and those planning their later life. Currently there are no eligibility criteria for our services and they are available at no charge.
Students and volunteers collaborate with and learn from colleagues in geriatric medicine, palliative care, social work, finance, government and gerontology. While the Clinic’s offices are located in downtown Montreal, our volunteers see clients in their homes, offices and residences or otherwise deal with requests by phone from across the province.
We employ a multidisciplinary and client-centered team approach to finding timely, effective and human solutions to legal problems of aging. The Clinic employs collaborative law, (informal and formal) mediation, participatory and restorative justice methods to these ends.
We cannot take an established approach that works for some. Older adults have complex, multifaceted issues at play which are profoundly different than those associated with other populations. Our approach is an evidence-based model which seeks to deliver the best results for the most vulnerable of older adults regardless of socioeconomic status.
Clients of the Clinic are served by students of the faculties of law of McGill University and Université de Montréal, under the supervision of the Centre’s Supervising Lawyer, Ann Soden Ad. E. The Elder Law Clinic serves as a legal clinical course for credit at the law school. It is also staffed by volunteer lawyers and notaries.
Meeting the unique needs of older adults through education, research and advocacy
Older persons who are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and loss of their civil rights may be alone, uninformed, or have varying degree of diminished capacity. They may also not be aware of or able to access approaches to justice to resolve their problems which accord with their wishes or values. These people often do not recognize that their most important problems have a legal rights dimension, nor do many of the professionals serving them see the problems of older adults as legal in nature.
Indeed, judicial solutions are not usually desired by older adults whose problems are almost always multifaceted and frequently involve family members. Our clinical approaches are interdisciplinary and community-based. We employ participative and restorative justice approaches to resolving and preventing problems. We do this because these are the approaches our clients want and which have the greatest chance of success. We go beyond simply fixing a short-term or acute problem and get to its root. We put in place social and professional support networks, ongoing case management and solutions supported by the law but which are practical, human, cost-effective and durable.
We continue to partner with community entities in the legal, aging, disability and mental health fields and drive changes in practice. Lasting change at the provincial and national level is most likely to come about through collaborative stakeholder coordination and problem-solving.
Our aim is to balance attention to these timely local and individual needs with a broader vision for reform that can have a more widespread effect on policy and practice and in turn on the quality of life of vulnerable individuals.
The work of the Institute and its legal clinic, the Elder Law Clinic, in 2015/2016 focused on five types of activities:
- Policy and Research
- Participation on law reform committees of the Canadian and Québec Bars on end-of-life care, aid in dying and euthanasia, on certification and regulation of residences for older adults and reform of the Code of Civil Procedure of Québec relating to non-contentious proceedings and the rights of the person, including appearances before the National Assembly of Québec;
- Development of a consumer guide on housing, service and care options, in partnership with the Universities of Montreal and Sherbrooke and Educaloi (in progress);
- Development of a multidisciplinary text on Droit des aînés to be published in 2016 by Lexis Nexis Quebec, Ann Soden, Ad. E., General Editor; and co-authoring with Dr. Robert Gordon of the chapter, “The Guardianship of Incapable Adults and Their Property in Canada” in Comparative Perspectives on Adult Guardianship, A. Kimberley Dayton, General Editor, Carolina Academic Press, North Carolina, 2014;
- Memoire prepared for, and appearance before, the Privacy Commission of Canada on proposed modifications to PIPEDA intended to prevent and respond to financial exploitation in financial institutions.
- Professional education, coordination and collaboration with interdisciplinary partners, including:
- More than 12 professional trainings and conferences and regular consultations to professionals, including lawyers, police, social workers, and other stakeholders in the field of aging: ACCESSS, Alzheimer’s Society, AQDR, Catholic Community Services, Centres de justice à proximité, Equipe provinciale multisectoriale pour contrer la maltraitance de René Cassin, Equipe de travailleurs sociaux psycho-geriatiques du CLSC Metro Montréal, FADOC, FCCCAP, Fondation du Barreau du Québec, Juripop, Justes Solutions, Ligne Info-Abus, Pro-Bono Québec, SAVA, SPVM, Surété du Québec, Université de Laval, and numerous other community cultural and faith-based organizations across the province.
- Technical assistance
- Maintaining the website, elderlawcanada.ca, in English and French, with references to resources and publications on law and aging issues, and development of a website for the Institute and its legal clinic.
- Public legal education, including:
- Presenting more than 15 community presentations and conferences to the general public.
- Direct Client Services
- Operating a province-wide full-time pro bono mobile legal clinic, the Centre for Law and Aging, established in 2007, on legal issues of aging offered to older persons, regardless of economic status, but particularly to the most disadvantaged and under-represented of the province due to cognitive impairment, providing in 2013 more than 4000 hours of direct client services (1200 from student interns), responding to more than 350 calls for information, advice and referrals annually of which more than 50 benefiting from legal representation and accompaniment.
Help us continue to improve the lives of older persons and those who play important roles in the lives of older adults.