This section outlines:
- A snapshot of the law in Yukon
- Key laws and regulations
- The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act
- Reporting abuse by a regulated health care professional
- Exceptions to confidentiality and privacy rules
- Victims’ rights under the Victims of Crime Act
- Substitute decision-makers in Yukon and how to challenge their authority
- Employment protections
- Key government and community contacts
Key features of elder abuse and neglect law in the Yukon
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act, which provides a framework for responding to abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. There is no public duty to report elder abuse. Any person may report abuse or neglect of an adult who cannot seek support and assistance to a designated agency. Contact:
- Seniors Services/Adult Protection Office: 1-800-661-0408, extension 3946.
The court can grant an emergency intervention order or a victim’s assistance order under the Family Violence Prevention Act if an adult is experiencing family violence, which includes:
- Harm to the person or their property;
- Threats of harm;
- Forced confinement; and
If a designated agency informs the Yukon Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) that it is making inquiries into the abuse or neglect of an adult, the PGT can investigate:
- The adult’s financial affairs; or
- The financial decision-making of an attorney under a power of attorney, an associate decision-maker under supported decision-maker agreement, a representative under a representation agreement, or a court-appointed guardian.
2. Key Laws and Regulations
- Adult Protection and Decision Making Act [APDMA]
- Public Guardian and Trustee Act [PGTA]
Health Care Professional Regulation
- Chiropractors Act
- Dental Profession Act
- Denturists Act
- Health Professions Act [HPA]
- Licensed Practical Nurses Act
- Medical Profession Act
- Optometrists Act
- Pharmacists Regulation
- Physiotherapists Regulation
- Registered Nurses Profession Act
- Registered Psychiatric Nurses Regulation
- Family Violence Prevention Act [FVPA]
- Family Violence Prevention Regulation [FVPA Regulation]
- Victims of Crime Act [VCA]
- Enduring Power of Attorney Act [EPOAA]
- Care Consent Act [CCA]
- Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act [AIPPA]
- Health Information Privacy and Management Act [HIPMA]
3. The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act
Yukon has specific adult protection legislation, the Adult Protection and Decision Making Act. Part 4 of the Act provides the framework for responding to abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. Key features of this legislation:
- Prioritize the decision-making autonomy of capable adults;
- Define abuse, neglect, and self-neglect;
- Allow anyone to report abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults;
- Set out the investigation and response requirements of designated agencies;
- Outline protection orders for adults who are being abused and are unable to obtain support or assistance; and
- Outline the rights and responsibilities of substitute decision-makers.
3.1 Guiding principles
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act sets out five guiding principles for interpreting and administering the adult protection regime. These principles prioritize the decision-making autonomy of capable adults, stating that all adults have the right to live as they wish and to accept or refuse support. The law emphasizes that adults are entitled to participate in how their affairs are managed and that their values, beliefs, wishes, and culture should be respected. Court-ordered guardianship is the last resort for supporting older adults with reduced capacity.
- Guiding principles
- 2 This Act is to be administered and interpreted in accordance with the following principles
- (a) all adults are entitled to live in the manner they wish and to accept or refuse support, assistance, or protection as long as they do not harm others and they are capable of making decisions about those matters;
- (b) adults are entitled to be informed about and, to the best of their ability, participate in, the management of their affairs;
- (c) all adults should receive the most effective, but the least restrictive and intrusive, form of support, assistance, or protection when they are unable to care for themselves or manage their affairs;
- (d) the Supreme Court should not be asked to appoint, and should not appoint, guardians unless alternatives, such as the provision of support and assistance, have been tried or carefully considered;
- (e) the values, beliefs, wishes, and cultural norms and traditions that an adult holds should be respected in managing an adult’s affairs.
3.2 Definitions of abuse and neglect
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act’s definition of abuse is quite broad, covering physical, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse. It specifically lists various acts which would constitute abuse.
- “abuse” means the deliberate mistreatment of an adult that
- (a) causes the adult physical, mental, or emotional harm, or
- (b) causes financial damage or loss to the adult,
- and includes intimidation, humiliation, physical assault, sexual assault, overmedication, withholding needed medication, censoring mail, invasion or denial of privacy, denial of access to visitors, or denial of use or possession of personal property.
The Act also applies to neglect and self-neglect and define them as follows:
- “neglect” means any failure to provide necessary care, assistance, guidance, or attention to an adult that causes, or is reasonably likely to cause, within a short period of time, the adult serious physical, mental, or emotional harm, or substantial financial damage or loss to the adult, and includes self-neglect.
- “self-neglect” means any failure of an adult to take care of themselves that causes, or is reasonably likely to cause within a short period of time, serious physical or mental harm, or substantial financial damage or loss to the adult, and includes
- (a) living in grossly unsanitary conditions;
- (b) suffering from an untreated illness, disease or injury;
- (c) suffering from malnutrition to such an extent that, without intervention, the adult’s physical or mental health is likely to be severely impaired;
- (d) creating a hazardous situation that will likely cause serious physical harm to the adult or others, or cause substantial financial damage or loss to the adult; and
- (e) suffering from an illness, disease, or injury that results in the adult dealing with their financial affairs in a manner that is likely to cause substantial damage or loss.
3.3 Reporting abuse and neglect
In Yukon, there is no public duty to report elder abuse. Any person can (but is not required to) report to a designated agency the abuse or neglect of an older adult who cannot seek support and assistance.
- Reporting abuse or neglect
- 61(1) Anyone may make a report to a designated agency where they have information indicating that an adult
- (a) is abused or neglected; and
- (b) is unable to seek support and assistance for any of the reasons mentioned in paragraph 59(b).
- (2) A report under subsection (1) may be made respecting the conduct of any person, including a person who is a guardian, associate decision-maker, or representative for the adult.
An older adult is considered unable to seek support and assistance if they have a disability or illness that affects their ability to seek help, or are unable to seek help because of a physical or chemical restraint.
- 59 The purpose of this Part is to enable designated agencies
- (a) to make inquiries and offer support in situations where an adult may be abused or neglected; and
- (b) to apply to the Territorial Court for an adult protection order where an adult is unable to seek support and assistance for any of the following reasons
- (i) physical or chemical restraint;
- (ii) a physical or intellectual disability that limits their ability to seek help;
- (iii) an illness, disease, injury, or other condition that affects their ability to seek help; or
- (iv) any similar reason.
A person can report abuse or neglect of an older adult regardless of where the adult is living. The older adult could be living:
- In their own home;
- In the community;
- In a health care facility; or
- Any other place.
3.4 Designated agencies to respond to abuse
Under the Adult Protection and Decision Making Act framework, a designated agency must investigate if it:
- Receives a report of abuse or neglect;
- Has reason to suspect abuse or neglect; or
- Receives a report that a substitute decision-maker has been prevented from contacting the older adult.
The designated agency must make inquiries to determine if there are reasonable grounds for believing that an adult is abused or neglected and unable to seek support and assistance.
Designated agencies are organizations that have entered into an agreement with the Department of Health and Social Services to be a designated agency. Specially trained social workers at the Health and Social Services department are designated to respond to abuse and neglect. Reports of abuse or neglect can be made to the Seniors Services/Adult Protection Office, or a Regional Social Worker. The contact information is in section 10.
3.5 Powers of response
Inquiry into abuse or neglect
When a designated agency is making inquiries into suspected abuse or neglect, the designated agency is required to make every reasonable effort to interview the adult. The older adult must also be involved as much as possible in decisions about how to stop the abuse or neglect and what support should be given to the adult.
In making inquiries, a designated agency has the power to do one or more of the following:
- Apply for a court order to enter premises to interview the adult and determine whether the adult needs health care;
- Interview relatives and friends of the older adult;
- Inform the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT);
- Obtain services for the older adult;
- Refer the older adult to service providers, and assist the adult to obtain those services; and
- Obtain information, such as the reports from the adult’s health care, social services, or financial services providers.
After making inquiries, if the designated agency determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe the adult is abused or neglected and unable to seek support and assistance, it may (in addition to the above powers):
- Apply for an adult protection order (see below);
- Report the abuse or neglect to the RCMP;
- Refer the matter to a community process based on restorative justice principles; and/or
- Apply for a court order for the adult’s maintenance.
Adult protection order
A designated agency can apply to court for an adult protection order. For the court to make the order, the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person abused or neglected the adult, and that the adult is unable to seek support and assistance. The designated agency must notify the adult and subject of the order at least 72 hours before the hearing for the order.
Possible terms of an adult protection order include:
- No direct or indirect communication with the older adult;
- Stay away from the older adult’s residence;
- Not be involved in the older adult’s financial affairs;
- Give the older adult possession of specified personal property, such as a car, bank card, or keys;
- Not to deal with the adult’s property; or
- Any other restrictions the court considers appropriate.
The judge will decide on the time period and conditions of the order based on what is appropriate to protect the adult from further abuse or neglect without depriving the adult unnecessarily of the companionship and support of family and friends.
If the older adult is in in immediate need of protection, the court can grant an interim adult protection order. This does not require a hearing, and notice does not need to be given to the person who is subject to the order beforehand. The interim order can also be granted without establishing the abuse or neglect and inability of the adult to seek support and assistance, provided there is some sworn information regarding the abuse or neglect and incapacity. An interim order is effective for up to 60 days.
- Interim orders
- 73(1) A judge may make an interim adult protection order where the judge is of the opinion that, for any reason, it is advisable to adjourn the hearing of the application.
- (2) Where there are reasonable grounds for believing that it may be necessary to ensure the immediate protection of the adult, a judge may make an interim adult protection order
- (a) without notice to the adult or a person against whom the order is sought;
- (b) without a hearing; or
- (c) without requiring the designated agency to establish the matters required by subsection 72(4).
- (3) An order under paragraph (2)(a) or (b) shall be subject to terms and conditions the judge shall impose providing the adult or other person with notice and an opportunity to be heard.
- (4) An order shall not be made under paragraph (2)(c) unless there is some information before the judge on oath or affidavit as to the matters required by subsection 72(4).
- (5) An interim adult protection order is effective for a maximum of 60 days from the date of the order.
Designated agencies have some powers that can be exercised when emergency assistance is required. These powers can be exercised if:
- The adult is apparently abused or neglected;
- The adult is not capable of giving consent; and
- Action needs to be taken immediately to protect the adult from death, serious physical or mental harm, or substantial financial loss.
In such instances, the designated agency can:
- Enter the premises where the adult is located without a warrant;
- Move the adult from their location to a safe place;
- Provide emergency health care;
- Notify the PGT that the adult’s financial affairs need protection; and/or
- Take any other measures that are necessary to protect the adult.
After any emergency action has been taken, the designated agency may make inquiries into the abuse and neglect.
4. Regulated Health Professionals and Reporting
In Yukon, there is no single legislation covering all health professionals. Instead, each health profession is regulated under their own Act. The duties to report a health professional who has potentially abused a patient will therefore depend on the provisions of the applicable legislation. This section will outline a few of the Acts governing health professionals. To find the duties which apply to a specific health profession, check the Act that governs that profession. Links to each act are found in section 2 above.
A college is responsible for regulating health professionals within their jurisdiction, including making sure members are fit for practice and are not committing any infractions. This process is limited to reviewing the regulated health professional’s actions. If a member has been found to be engaging in abuse, the college’s remedies are limited to restricting a regulated health professional’s practice. The college can remove a person’s practice credentials if they are a danger to the public. However, a complaint usually will not result in any remedies for the person who has been abused. The specifics of what actions a college can take in regulating a health professional’s actions will depend on the specifics of the Acts governing the practice area.
4.2 The Health Professions Act
The Health Professions Act currently governs midwives, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and registered psychiatric nurses. Other health professions may be designated as falling under this Act from time to time.
The Act allows any person to make a complaint against a regulated health professional to the registrar. The registrar also has the power to investigate:
- A contravention of the Health Professions Act;
- A failure to meet professional standards;
- Incompetence; or
- An impairment that affects the professional’s ability to practise.
The registrar must investigate if a complaint has been made. Upon investigation, the registrar may choose to:
- Take no further action;
- Informally resolve the matter;
- Issue a reprimand; or
- Refer the matter to a hearing by the discipline committee.
The discipline committee has the power to order one or more of the following:
- Take no action;
- Issue a reprimand;
- Place limits on the registrant’s practice;
- Suspend or cancel the person’s professional registration; or
- Issue a fine.
4.3 The Medical Profession Act
The Medical Profession Act designates the Yukon Medical Council as the regulatory body for medical practitioners in Yukon.
Any member of the public may, if they have sufficient evidence, request the council conduct an inquiry into whether a registrant is fit to practise medicine. The inquiry committee of the council will then investigate, and the council will determine whether the registrant has been guilty of unprofessional conduct or is suffering from an illness or addiction that would make them a danger to the public if they were to continue practising. If so, the council may take one or more of the following actions:
- Suspend or remove the person’s professional registration;
- Issue a fine;
- Issue a reprimand;
- Require the registrant to undergo additional training; or
- Place the registrant on probation.
The Medical Profession Act requires a registrant to make a report to the registrar if they reasonably believe another registrant has an illness or addiction that would make them a danger to the public if they were to continue practising. An inquiry committee will then investigate and, if the registrant is found unfit to practise medicine, they may be suspended from practice.
4.4 The Registered Nurses Profession Act
The Registered Nurses Profession Act designates the Yukon Registered Nurses Association as the regulatory body governing registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Yukon.
The Act requires employers to report a nurse to the registrar if they:
- Suspend; or
- Put restrictions on a nurse’s employment because they reasonably believed the nurse is:
- unfit to practice due to an illness;
- is incompetent or incapacitated; or
- would be a danger to people in their care.
If the nurse resigns before these actions can be taken, the employer must still report this to the registrar. The registrar will then forward the report to the complaints committee for investigation.
There is no restriction on who may make a complaint against a nurse, but any complaint must be made in writing. Upon receipt of a complaint, the complaints committee will conduct an investigation. The complaints committee may:
- Refer the complaint to a consensual complaint resolution process;
- Decide to take no further action; or
- Refer the matter to the discipline committee.
The discipline committee will hold a hearing. If it finds the nurse to be:
- Guilty of professional misconduct;
- Incompetent; or
it may take one or more of the following actions:
- Revoke or suspend the nurse’s licence;
- Limit the nurse’s practice to specified fields of nursing;
- Impose conditions on the nurse’s practice;
- Require counselling or additional training; and
- Issue a reprimand.
4.5 Other reporting duties
Regulated health professionals may also have some duties to report abuse or misconduct arising from their professional codes of conduct. If you are a regulated health professional, examine your professional codes of conduct or practice standards to see if you have any responsibilities under these rules, or contact your college for advice.
5. Confidentiality, Privacy, and Privilege
Confidentiality ensures vital information is kept private for professions which require a client to disclose private information, such as counsellors, doctors, and nurses. A lawyer must respect solicitor-client privilege. Requirements of confidentiality and privilege can be found:
- In legislation;
- In common law; and
- In professional codes of ethics, codes of conduct, or professional standards.
Generally, professionals, staff, and volunteers must get consent from the older adult before disclosing personal or health information. However, exceptions to confidentiality and privilege have been created by various laws.
5.1 Anonymity of a person who reports abuse
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act contains provisions relevant to confidentiality. It requires that the identity of a person who reports abuse or neglect to be kept confidential.
- (3) A person must not disclose or be compelled to disclose the identity of a person who makes a report under subsection (1).
5.2 Confidentiality of personal and health information
Exceptions under adult protection law
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act empowers designated agencies to obtain all the information they need to carry out their functions, such as conducting inquiries, without the need for the adult’s consent. A person who has information which would normally be confidential must disclose this information to a designated agency upon request. This obligation overrides any confidentiality requirements or privilege which the person might otherwise be subject to, with the exception of solicitor-client privilege.
- Right to information
- 67(1) A designated agency has a right to all the information necessary to enable it to perform its functions under this Act without the consent of the adult or, where applicable, the adult’s guardian.
- (2) Any person who has custody or control of information that a designated agency is entitled to under subsection (1) must disclose that information to the agency on request.
- (3) Subsections (1) and (2) override
- (a) any claim of confidentiality or privilege, other than a claim based on solicitor-client privilege; and
- (b) any restriction in an enactment or the common law about the disclosure or confidentiality of information.
Similarly, under the Public Guardian and Trustee Act, the PGT has a right to obtain any information they need to perform their functions, including investigating financial abuse and acting as statutory guardian. These powers override any rule of confidentiality or privilege which might otherwise apply, except solicitor-client privilege.
Exceptions under privacy law
In Yukon, there are two pieces of legislation that outline privacy rights:
- Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act—applies to public bodies, such as government departments and agencies.
- Health Information Privacy and Management Act—applies to personal health information used by the Department of Health and Social Services, hospitals, or health care providers.
The federal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act also applies in Yukon. See the federal laws section for confidentiality exceptions under this Act, which applies to private organizations conducting commercial activities and to federally regulated organizations, such as banks.
The two acts govern the manner in which personal information may be collected, used, and disclosed. Under the acts, personal information must be kept confidential, and generally, disclosure is permitted only if it is for the purpose for which the personal information was collected, or a person consents to the disclosure. Only in prescribed circumstances can information be disclosed without consent.
Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the circumstances under which personal information can be disclosed without consent include:
- If compelling circumstances exist that affect anyone’s health or safety, provided that notice of disclosure is mailed to the last known address of the individual the information is about;
- To assist with a police investigation;
- As required by another law; and
- For the PGT to conduct its functions under the Public Guardian and Trustee Act.
Under the Health Information Privacy and Management Act, the circumstances under which personal information can be disclosed without consent include:
- If the disclosure will prevent or reduce a risk of serious harm to the health or safety of any other individual, or will enable the assessment of whether such a risk exists;
- To assess a person’s decision-making capacity;
- To assist with a police investigation; and
- As required by another law.
Exceptions that apply to solicitor-client privilege
Confidentiality and legal privilege are two similar, but legally distinct concepts. Both are based on the principle that a lawyer owes a duty of loyalty to the client.
Solicitor-client privilege is a legal principle that applies to all communications between a client and a lawyer where the communication was for the purposes of obtaining legal advice and was intended to be confidential. It operates to protect such information from having to be disclosed in legal proceedings.
However, solicitor-client privilege will not apply:
- Where privilege has been waived by the client;
- Where there is a clear, serious, and imminent threat to public safety;
- Where the innocence of an accused is at stake; or
- Where limited by law.
Other types of privilege include litigation privilege, which protects communications created for the dominant purpose of preparing for litigation.
A lawyer’s duty of confidentiality is an ethical duty. Unlike privilege, this duty covers any communications made during the professional relationship – there is no requirement that the communications be made for the purposes of obtaining legal advice.
The Law Society of Yukon sets out the duty of confidentiality and applicable exceptions in its Code of Conduct.
- Confidential Information
- 3.3-1 A lawyer at all times must hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of a client acquired in the course of the professional relationship and must not divulge any such information unless:
- (a) expressly or impliedly authorized by the client;
- (b) required by law or a court to do so;
- (c) required to deliver the information to the Law Society; or
- (d) otherwise permitted by this rule.
The Code of Conduct also permits disclosure of confidential information where there is imminent danger of death or serious injury, and disclosure is necessary to prevent this harm.
- Future Harm / Public Safety Exception
- 3.3-3 A lawyer may disclose confidential information, but must not disclose more information than is required, when the lawyer believes on reasonable grounds that there is an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm, and disclosure is necessary to prevent the death or harm.
6. Victim Rights under the Victims of Crime Act
In Yukon, the Victims of Crime Act outlines the rights of victims when interacting with the criminal justice system. Section 3sets out a list of fundamental rights of victims:
- 3 Fundamental rights
- In their interaction with the justice system, victims have
- (a) the right to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect;
- (b) the right to the consideration of and respect for their privacy; and
- (c) the right to expect that reasonable measures consistent with the law will be taken to
- (i) minimize their inconvenience, and
- (ii) protect them from intimidation and retaliation.
The Victims of Crime Act also has specific provisions addressing the following rights. The section includes needs linked to cognitive impairment:
- Right to information regarding the justice system, the case, programs, and services;
- Right to have their views considered throughout the criminal justice process;
- Right to return of property; and
- Right to have their needs, concerns, and diversity considered in the development and delivery of victim services programs and public education initiatives, including the needs of women, indigenous peoples, and people living with cognitive impairments and mental illnesses.
7. Protection and assistance orders under the Family Violence Prevention Act
The Family Violence Prevention Act outlines how a person who is experiencing family violence can obtain an emergency intervention order or victim’s assistance order.
7.1 Definition of family violence
An order can be obtained where a person is experiencing family violence. Family violence is defined to include:
- Acts or threats that cause a reasonable fear of injury or property damage;
- Psychological or emotional abuse;
- Forced confinement;
- Sexual abuse; and
- “family violence” means
- (a) any intentional or reckless act or omission that causes bodily harm or damage to property,
- (b) any act or threatened act that causes a reasonable fear of bodily harm or of damage to property,
- (b.1) conduct that, considered reasonably in the context of all relevant circumstances of the relationship, constitutes psychological or emotional abuse,
- (c) forced confinement,
- (d) sexual abuse, or
- (e) depriving a person of food, clothing, medical attention, shelter, transportation, or other necessaries of life.
7.2 Who can apply for an order under the FVPA
The law specifies who can apply for an emergency intervention order or a victim’s assistance order. The following people can apply:
- The adult who experienced the family violence;
- A peace officer (such as the police), with the adult’s consent;
- A victim services worker employed by the government, with the adult’s consent; and
- Any other person with leave of the court.
The law defines a victim to be someone subjected to family violence by either:
- A cohabitant, meaning someone they lived with or are living with together in a family, spousal, or intimate relationship; or
- An intimate companion, meaning someone they have or had a continuing relationship of intimate companionship.
7.3 Emergency intervention orders
An emergency intervention order can be granted when family violence has or is likely to occur and the victim is in immediate need of protection. In deciding whether to grant the order, the Justice of the Peace must consider:
- The nature of the family violence;
- The history of family violence towards the victim;
- Whether there is immediate danger to persons or property; and
- The best interests of the victim and the victim’s child (if any). 
- Emergency intervention order
- 4(1) An emergency intervention order may be granted ex parte by a designated justice of the peace if that designated justice of the peace concludes that
- (a) family violence has occurred or is likely to occur; and
- (b) because of seriousness or urgency, the order should be made immediately in order to ensure the immediate protection of the victim.
Possible terms of the emergency intervention order are:
- Granting the victim or other family members exclusive occupation of the residence for a defined period;
- Removal of the abuser from the residence by a police officer;
- Police accompaniment to collect belongings;
- No direct or indirect communication with the adult or another specified person;
- Seizure of weapons by police; and
- Any other terms the court considers necessary.
The emergency intervention order can be for whatever time period the Justice of the Peace thinks is appropriate.
All emergency protection orders must be reviewed by a judge, who has the power to confirm, terminate, or vary an order. The Family Violence Prevention Act requires hearings to be informal, so that they can be easier for participants to understand. A victim, or someone acting on the victim’s behalf, can request that the court keep the victim’s address confidential. The court may order that the hearing be held in private, and/or order a publication ban.
7.4 Victim’s assistance orders
A victim’s assistance order can be granted when the court believes family violence has occurred. The range of matters that can be covered under a victim’s assistance order is broader than under an emergency intervention order.
Possible provisions of the victim’s assistance order are:
- Exclusive occupation of the residence for a defined period;
- Respondent to stay away from specified locations;
- No contact which could be alarming or annoying to the victim;
- Police removal of the respondent from the residence;
- Police accompaniment of victim to collect belongings;
- Respondent to pay compensation to the victim for losses;
- Temporary possession of specified personal property, such as cars and bank cards;
- The respondent is restrained from dealing with the victim’s property;
- Recommendation that the respondent receive counselling or therapy; or
- Any other terms the court considers appropriate.
8. Financial Abuse by Substitute Decision-Makers
This section explains the different substitute decision-maker in Yukon and identifies some actions that can be taken to remove their authority if they are abusive. These protections and remedies are contained in adult protection legislation.
8.1 Substitute and supportive decision-makers in Yukon
In Yukon, a substitute decision-maker could be:
- An associate decision-maker under a supported decision-maker agreement (SDA), chosen by the older adult;
- A representative under a representation agreement (RA), chosen by the older adult;
- An attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA), chosen by the older adult;
- A guardian appointed by the court; or
- The Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) as guardian appointed through a statutory process.
8.2 Associate decision-maker under an SDA
Appointing an associate decision-maker
Adults who have difficulties making decisions or communicating can appoint an associate decision-maker to help them make decisions and retain decision-making capacity. Where an associate decision-maker is involved, the decision rests with the adult and is legally recognized as the decision of the adult. An associate decision-maker is not entitled to make decisions on behalf of the adult.
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act describes the purpose of the provisions on SDAs as follows:
- Purpose of this Part
- 4 The purpose of this Part is
- (a) to enable trusted friends and relatives to help adults who do not need guardianship
- and are substantially able to manage their affairs, but whose ability to make or
- communicate decisions with respect to some or all of those affairs is impaired; and
- (b) to give persons providing support to adults under paragraph (a) legal status to
be with the adult and participate in discussions with others when the adult is making decisions or attempting to obtain information.
The SDA must specify what types of decisions the associate decision-maker can help with. An SDA can cover any type of decisions, including financial decisions.
Duties of an associate decision-maker
An associate decision-maker under an SDA has several duties, unless the SDA states otherwise. These duties are to:
- Assist the adult to make and communicate a decision;
- Assist the adult to obtain relevant information;
- Advise the adult by explaining relevant information and considerations;
- Determine what the wishes of the adult are, and help communicate them; and
- Try to ensure that the adult’s decisions are implemented.
An SDM is prohibited from unduly influencing the adult’s decisions. They must act:
- In good faith and in the best interests of the adult; and
- Exercise reasonable care and skill.
Under an SDA, the adult retains all decision-making rights. For the SDA to be valid, the adult must be capable of making decisions with the assistance of their associate decision-maker. They must be able to understand the nature and effect of the SDA. Once the adult is no longer capable of making decisions, the SDA is invalid.
Cancelling an SDA
To cancel the SDA, the adult should notify the associate. Yukon Health and Social Services advises asking associates to return their copies of the SDA, so that the adult can destroy those copies.
8.3 Representatives under an RA
Appointing a representative
An RA lets an adult choose someone to make specified financial or personal decisions on their behalf. The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act describes the purpose of the provisions on RAs as follows:
- Purpose of this Part
- 14 The purpose of this Part is to enable an adult to agree to allow two or more trusted
- friends or relatives to make a limited range of daily living decisions regarding the adult’s
- personal or financial affairs for and on behalf of the adult where the adult
- (a) does not need guardianship; and
- (b) is capable of managing most or all of their affairs under some circumstances but
has difficulty doing so under other circumstances.
An adult can enter into a RA if they are able to understand the nature and effect of the RA.
Types of decisions covered by an RA
The RA must specify what type of financial or personal decisions the adult is authorizing the representative to make. The regulations limit what types of financial decisions can potentially be made by a representative. These financial decisions are:
- Paying bills;
- Buying goods and services for the adult’s day-to-day living;
- Renting a property to live in;
- Matters relating to insurance, except for life insurance;
- Making RRSP and pension contributions;
- Managing bank accounts;
- Submitting returns and other matters related to income tax;
- Obtaining eligible government benefits; and
- Safekeeping documents and property.
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act Regulations emphasise that an RA cannot authorize a representative to make the following financial decisions:
- Using the adult’s credit card or line of credit, or obtaining or renewing credit cards or lines of credit;
- Obtaining new loans, including mortgages;
- Buying or selling real property;
- Guaranteeing a loan;
- Acting as director on behalf of the adult;
- Lending or gifting property; and
- Investing the adult’s money in investments not protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The non-financial decisions that an RA may authorize are as follows:
- Where the adult lives and with whom;
- Whether the adult should work and related matters;
- Whether the adult should participate in any education, vocational, or other training; and
- Daily activities, such as hygiene, diet, dress, social activities, and companions.
A representative is prohibited from spending any of the adult’s cash without first depositing it into the adult’s bank account, and from taking any of the adult’s cash or property for the representative’s own use.
Duties of a representative
A representative under an RA has several duties, including to:
- Keep accounting records and allow the adult to access the records upon request (if the RA deals with financial matters);
- Consult with the adult as much as is reasonable to determine their wishes;
- Encourage the adult to be involved in decision-making and managing their affairs;
- Not exert undue influence;
- Act honestly and in good faith;
- Exercise reasonable care and skill;
- Act within their authority;
- Keep the adult’s information secure from unauthorized disclosure;
- Follow the adult’s wishes to the extent that is reasonable. If the adult cannot express their wishes or it is unreasonable to comply with them, the representative must act based on the wishes contained in the RA. If the RA does not set out the adult’s wishes, the representative must act based on the adult’s beliefs or values. If these are not known, the representative must act based on the adult’s best interests.
Ending an RA
An RA can remain in force for a maximum of three years from the date it was signed.
An RA can end in several ways:
- The time limit has expired;
- The adult no longer has capacity (they no longer understand the nature and effect of the agreement);
- A capable adult creates a new RA;
- A capable adult states that they are revoking the RA in writing or verbally; or
- A capable adult destroys all original executed copies of the RA with the intention of revoking the RA.
8.4 Attorneys under an EPOA
Appointing an attorney
An EPOA lets an adult choose a person (called an attorney) to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf. An EPOA can take effect immediately, or stipulate that it will not take effect until a person is incapable of making these decisions. Unlike an RA, an EPOA continues to be effective even if the adult becomes mentally incapable.
Unless stated otherwise in the EPOA document, an attorney can make any legal or financial decision on behalf of the adult that the adult could have lawfully made, including selling property and making investment decisions.
Duties of an attorney
An attorney under an EPOA has a duty to protect the adult’s interests when the adult is incapable of making reasonable financial or legal decisions.
Ending an EPOA
Generally, an EPOA can be revoked or terminated in several ways:
- The adult revokes the EPOA in writing, provided they have the capacity to understand the nature and effect of what they are doing;
- The attorney resigns their position. If the adult no longer has capacity, the attorney cannot resign unless the court grants them permission to do so;
- The adult or the attorney dies;
- A guardian is appointed for either the adult or the attorney; or
- The court terminates the order.
Any interested person can apply to the court to have the EPOA terminated. The court will terminate the EPOA if it considers that this would be in the best interests of the adult. Although the court cannot appoint a substitute attorney, it can direct the applicant to bring an application for guardianship and/or appoint an interim trustee.
Certain people can apply to the court to have the attorney account for any transactions they have made. This application can be brought by:
- The adult;
- The adult’s representative;
- A trustee of the adult’s estate; or
- Any other interested person (if the adult is unable to make reasonable judgments regarding their estate).
8.5 Court-appointed guardians
Appointing a guardian
If an adult is incapable of managing their affairs, any person may apply to the court to have a guardian appointed. The court will only appoint a guardian if:
- The adult is incapable of managing their affairs;
- They need the care, assistance, and protection of a guardian; and
- There are no less intrusive options available to support the adult.
An application for guardianship must include an assessment report stating, among other things, that the adult is incapable of managing some or all of their affairs. The assessment report must be by an assessor, namely:
- A medical practitioner;
- A nurse practitioner;
- A registered nurse;
- A psychologist; or
- An occupational therapist.
Types of decisions covered by guardianship
The authority of a guardian is determined by the court. The court must limit such authority to what is necessary to make (or assist in making) decisions about the adult’s affairs and to provide care, assistance, and protection to the adult. The authority must also be limited to what will result in the least restrictive and intrusive form of support and assistance.
The court may grant to the guardian decision-making authority over matters such as:
- Where the adult will live, and with whom;
- Whether the adult should work;
- Whether to obtain legal services and how to instruct counsel;
- Whether the adult should receive care in accordance with the Care Consent Act (CCA); and
- Anything regarding the adult’s financial affairs that the adult could have made were it not for the guardianship.
Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a guardian cannot:
- Dispose of real property;
- Deal with leases with a period of more than three years;
- Dispose of personal property above a certain threshold;
- Commence divorce or adoption proceedings; or
- Interfere with religious practices.
Duties of a guardian
A guardian has several duties, including to:
- Act honestly and in good faith;
- Exercise reasonable care and skill;
- Act within their authority;
- Encourage the adult to be involved in decision-making and managing their affairs;
- Consult with the adult as much as is reasonable to determine their wishes;
- Comply with their fiduciary duties as guardian;
- Not dispose of any property that the adult’s will bequeaths to someone;
- Keep the adult’s information secure from unauthorized disclosure; and
- Follow the adult’s wishes to the extent that is reasonable. If the adult cannot express their wishes or it is unreasonable to comply with them, the guardian must act based on any wishes expressed by the adult while they were capable. If such wishes are not known, the guardian must act based on the adult’s beliefs or values. If these are not known, the guardian must act based on the adult’s best interests.
Removing a guardian
Any person can apply to the court to have a guardian removed or replaced. The court can remove a guardian if the guardian:
- Is not acting in that capacity;
- Is not complying with their duties; or
- Is no longer suitable for the role.
Before replacing a guardian, the court may require that the adult’s capacity be assessed to determine if the adult still needs a guardian.
A guardian must apply to the court to have the terms of the guardianship order reviewed if the adult’s needs have changed significantly since the order was made, or the guardian suitability or ability to act has changed. Any other person may (but is not required to) apply for a review if they have information indicating those circumstances. The adult or a spokesperson on behalf of the adult may also request a review if they have a substantial reason for doing so. Upon review, the court can:
- Leave the order unchanged;
- Cancel the guardianship order;
- Change the terms of the order (including changing the powers of the guardian, or replacing a guardian); or
- Make any other order the court thinks fit and in the best interests of the adult.
8.6 Temporary Guardians
Appointing a temporary guardian
A person can apply to the court to have a temporary guardian appointed if they believe that:
- An adult is incapable of managing their financial affairs;
- A guardian is necessary to protect the adult from financial loss; and
- The normal guardianship process would cause delays against the adult’s best interests.
An assessment report is not required for a temporary guardianship application, although the court may direct that the report be provided at a later stage.
A temporary guardian can take actions to protect the adult’s assets, including asking financial institutions to:
- Freeze accounts;
- Stop the disposal of property; and
- Direct the adult’s income into a bank account.
A temporary guardian may be appointed for up to 180 days.
8.7 The role of the Public Guardian and Trustee
PGT investigations of financial abuse
If a designated agency informs the PGT that it is making inquiries into the abuse or neglect of an adult, the PGT can investigate the adult’s financial affairs. In those circumstances, the PGT can also investigate the financial decision-making of:
- An attorney under a power of attorney;
- An associate decision-maker under an SDA;
- A representative under an RA; or
- A court-appointed guardian.
The Public Guardian and Trustee Act outlines the PGT’s investigative powers, which include:
- Requiring a trustee or substitute decision-maker to produce any accounts or other records the PGT considers necessary for the investigation;
- Ordering any other person or organization holding records relating to the adult’s financial affairs to produce records;
- Examining any records relating to the older adult; and
- Obtaining information from a substitute decision-maker.
During or after an investigation, there are several actions the PGT can take:
- Give a report to the designated agency;
- Report abuse or neglect to the police;
- Apply for temporary guardianship of the adult;
- Provide information to the court in respect of a guardianship order or other matters;
- Provide information to the court in relation to an adult protection order; or
- Any other action the PGT feels is appropriate.
If the PGT reasonably believes that an adult was apparently abused or neglected, and the financial affairs of that adult require immediate protection, the PGT can take certain urgent actions. In particular, the PGT may:
- Freeze bank accounts;
- Direct income to be held in trust for the adult by the PGT;
- Stop any disposition of real or personal property; and
- Take any other reasonable steps that are necessary to protect the adult’s financial affairs.
PGT as statutory guardian
The PGT can act as a statutory guardian if an adult has been found in need of financial protection under a certificate issued under the Care Consent Act. Such a certificate may be issued by a health care provider if the adult is incapable of consenting to health care, and due to a medical condition, the adult does not have capacity to make financial decisions. A copy of the certificate must be given to the PGT. As statutory guardian, the PGT has the power to do anything necessary to manage the adult’s financial affairs.
The PGT is required to declare that the statutory guardianship is cancelled if:
- The PGT reasonably believes the statutory guardianship is no longer necessary;
- When the PGT receives a certificate under the Care Consent Act that the adult no longer needs financial protection; or
- The court ends the statutory guardianship.
Any person who is affected by a statutory guardianship can apply to the court to have the statutory guardianship ended. The court can:
- Leave the guardianship in place;
- Change the terms of the guardianship; or
- End the guardianship.
9. Employment Protections
9.1 Whistleblower protections
The Adult Protection and Decision Making Act contains protections for people who report abuse or neglect of an older adult to a designated agency. Anyone who reports abuse or neglect in good faith is protected from legal action, including professional disciplinary action.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who reports abuse or neglect or assists in an investigation. In particular, the employer cannot:
- Terminate their employment;
- Threaten them;
- Discriminate against them; or
- Discipline or penalize them.
- (4) No legal action of any kind, including professional disciplinary action, may be brought against a person for making a report under subsection (1) or for assisting in the making of inquiries under this Part, unless the person acted falsely and maliciously.
- (5) A person must not, because another person makes a report under subsection (1) or assists in the making of inquiries under this Part,
- (a) refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ the other person;
- (b) threaten dismissal or otherwise threaten the other person;
- (c) discriminate against the other person with respect to employment, a term or condition of employment, or membership in a profession or trade union; or
- (d) intimidate, coerce, discipline, or impose a pecuniary or other penalty on the other person.
9.2 Statutory employment leave
Yukon does not currently have an employment leave for domestic violence. However, a bill to amend the Employment Standards Act to provide domestic or sexualized violence leave has been passed, with the bill receiving assent in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on November 9, 2020.
Once the changes take effect, an employee will be able to take leave if they, their child, or a person they care for is subject to domestic violence or sexualized violence. Employees would be entitled to five days per year of unpaid leave, and if they have worked for at least three months with their employer, would be eligible for an additional 5 days of paid leave and up to 15 weeks of unpaid leave per year.
An employee may only take this leave for a purpose related to the domestic or sexualized violence, including to obtain:
- Medical care;
- Social services;
- Victim services;
- Legal assistance; or
- To relocate.
10. Key Contacts
Reporting Elder Abuse
Seniors’ Services and Adult Protection Unit
Report an incident of abuse or neglect by contacting the Seniors’ Services and Adult Protection Unit of Yukon Health and Social Services.
- In person: 100 – 204 Black Street
- Phone: 867-456-3946
- Phone toll free: 1-800-661-0408, extension 3946
Contact numbers for other locations can be found at yukon.ca/en/legal-and-social-supports/supports-adults-and-seniors/get-help-senior-or-adult-being-abused-or
Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee can be contacted by:
- Telephone: 867-667-5366
- Toll free (in Yukon) 1-800-661-0408, local 5366
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: www.publicguardianandtrustee.gov.yk.ca
Third Floor Andrew A. Philipsen Law Centre
2134 –2nd Avenue
Victim Services Programs & Initiatives
Victim Services provides help for victims dealing with a range of different crimes. Offices are open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., no appointment required.
- Website: yukon.ca/en/legal-and-social-supports/supports-victims-crime/find-out-about-victim-services
- Email: [email protected]
- In person: 301 Jarvis Street, 2nd floor
- Phone: 867-667-8500
- Toll free: 1-800-661-0408, extension 8500
- In person: 813B 3rd Avenue
- Phone: 867-993-5831
- In person: 820 Adela Trail
- Phone: 867-536-2541
VictimLinkBC is a toll-free, confidential, multilingual service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides information and referral services to all victims of crime and immediate crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence.
- Call or text: 1-800-563-0808
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/victims-of-crime/victimlinkbc
Community Adult Services Unit (Adult Community Services, Department of Health and Social Services)
Adult Community Services offers a range of social services to help people with disabilities. See yukon.ca/en/health-and-wellness/care-services/find-services-if-you-have-disability.
For information on the Chronic Conditions Support Program, email [email protected], or phone 867-667-8733, toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 8733.
For information on the Chronic Disease and Disability Benefits Program, email [email protected] or phone 867-667-5092, toll free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 5092.
For information on the Community Day Program, phone 867-456-6806, or toll-free in Yukon 1-800-661-0408, extension 6806.
Yukon Legal Services Society
The Legal Services Society may be able to provide a lawyer at no cost or low cost if you require a lawyer but cannot afford to pay.
- Phone: 867-667-5210 ext. 1
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: legalaid.yk.ca/
Suite 101, 2131 Second Avenue
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1C3
Yukon Council on Aging
The Yukon Council on Aging is a volunteer organization of Yukon seniors. The Council operates the Seniors Information Centre and the Home and Yard Maintenance Program. The Seniors’ Information Centre provides information and help with matters such as pension applications, advanced care directives, recreation and education, housing, and referrals to various agencies and organizations.
- Phone: 867-668-3383
- Toll free: 1-866-582-9707
- E-Mail: [email protected]
- Website: www.ycoayukon.com/
4061-B 4th Avenue
Yukon Public Legal Education Association
The Yukon Public Legal Education Association is a non-profit organization devoted to providing legal information to the public and promoting increased access to the legal system. It operates a Law Line, which helps callers identify the legal issues confronting them (but does not provide legal advice).
- Call: 867-668-5297 or toll free at 1-866-667-4305 during operating hours
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: yplea.com
2131 Second Avenue, Suite 102
 SY 2003, c 21, Sch A.
 YOIC 2005/78.
 SY 2003, c 21, Sch C.
 RSY 2002, c 32.
 RSY 2002, c 53.
 RSY 2002, c 54.
 SY 2003, c 24.
 RSY 2002, c 138.
 RSY 2002, c 149.
 RSY 2002, c 164.
 YOIC 2019/97.
 YOIC 2007/19.
 RSY 2002, c 194.
 YOIC 2009/134.
 RSY 2002, c 84.
 YOIC 1999/190.
 SY 2010, c 7.
 RSY 2002, c 73.
 SY 2003, c 21, Sch B.
 RSY 2002, c 1.
 SY 2013, c 16.
 APDMA, supra note 1.
 Ibid, s 2.
 Ibid, s 58.
 Ibid, s 59.
 Ibid, s 60.
 Ibid, s 62.
 Adult Protection and Decision-Making Regulation, s. 19.
 Yukon, Health & Social Services, “Adult Protection and Decision-Making”, online: <www.hss.gov.yk.ca/adultdecisionmaking.php>.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 63.
 Ibid, s 66.
 Ibid, s 64.
 Ibid, s 65.
 Ibid, ss 65, 67.
 Ibid, ss 69, 65.
 Ibid, s 70-72.
 Ibid, s 72.
 Ibid, s 72(3).
 Ibid, s 73.
 Ibid, s 78.
 Ibid, s 78(2).
 Ibid, s 78(3).
 HPA, supra note 7.
 ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 20.
 Ibid, ss 21, 24, 25.
 Ibid, s 27.
 MPA, supra note 9.
 MPA, supra note 9, s 24.
 Ibid, s 27.
 Ibid, s 30.
 RNPA, supra note 13.
 Ibid, s 22.1.
 Ibid, s 24.
 Ibid, ss 24.1, 25.
 Ibid, s 41.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 61(3).
 Ibid, s 67.
 Ibid, s 67.
 PGTA, supra note 3.
 Ibid, s 23.
 AIPPA, supra note 20, ss 2-3.
 HIPMA, supra note 21, ss 1-2.
 AIPPA, supra note 20, s 36; HIPMA, ibid, ss 13, 57.
 AIPPA, ibid, s 36(n).
 Ibid, s 36(l), (m).
 Ibid, s 36(d).
 Ibid, s 36(h).
 HIPMA, supra note 21, s 58(h).
 Ibid, s 58(c).
 Ibid, s 58(x).
 Ibid, s 58(o).
 Descôteaux v Mierzwinski,  1 SCR 860 at 870–876, 141 DLR (3d) 590 [Descôteaux cited to SCR].
 Smith v Jones,  1 SCR 455 at para 35, 169 DLR (4th) 385, [Smith cited to SCR]
 R. v. McClure,  S.C.R. 445, [McClure cited to SCR]
 Law Society of Yukon, Code of Conduct, Whitehorse: Law Society of Yukon, 7 January 2020, online: <lawsocietyyukon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Code-of-Conduct.pdf>.
 Ibid, ch 3(3.3-1).
 Ibid, ch 3(3.3-3).
 VCA, supra note 17.
 Ibid, s 3.
 Ibid, ss 3-7.
 FVPA, supra note 15.
 Ibid, s 1.
 Ibid, s 2(1)(a).
 Ibid, s 2(1)(b), FVPA Regulation, supra note 16, s 2.
 FVPA, Ibid, s 2(1)(b), FVPA Regulation, ibid, s 2.
 FVPA, Ibid, s 2(1)(c).
 Ibid, s 1.
 Ibid, s 4.
 Ibid, s 4.
 Ibid, s 4(3).
 Ibid, s 4(5).
 Ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 3.
 Ibid, s 7.
 Ibid, s 7.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 11.
 Ibid, s 5(2).
 Ibid, s 4.
 Ibid, ss 4, 9.
 Ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 13.
 Ibid, s 6.
 Yukon Health and Social Services, Supported Decision-Making Agreements, October 7, 2020, online: <yukon.ca/sites/yukon.ca/files/hss-supported-decision-making-agreements.pdf>.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 15(1).
 Ibid, s 18.
 APDMA Regulation, supra note 2, s 5.
 Ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 4.
 Ibid, s 5(3).
 Ibid, s 5(5).
 APDMA, supra note 1, ss 23, 24.
 APDMA Regulation, supra note 2, s 9.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 19.
 Ibid, s 20.
 EPOAA, supra note 18, ss 3, 5-6.
 Ibid, s 5.
 Ibid, s 8.
 Ibid, s 9.
 Ibid, s 14.
 Ibid, ss 13, 14.
 Ibid, s 14.
 Ibid, s 12.
 Ibid, s 11.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 28.
 Ibid, s 32.
 Ibid, s 30(1)(a).
 APDMA Regulation, supra note 2, s 13.
 APDMA, supra note 1, ss 37-38.
 CCA, supra note 19.
 Ibid, s 38.
 Ibid, ss 43-44, 46
 Ibid, s 50.
 Ibid, s 51, 52.
 Ibid, s 35.
 Ibid, ss 35(2), (10).
 Ibid, s 35.
 PGTA, supra note 3, s 9(1).
 Ibid, s 9(2).
 Ibid, s 10.
 Ibid, s 11.
 Ibid, ss 12-14, 18.
 Ibid, ss 12-13.
 CCA, supra note 19, s 61; PGTA, ibid, ss 12-13.
 PGTA, ibid, s 14.
 Ibid, s 15.
 Ibid, s 16, 17.
 APDMA, supra note 1, s 61(4).
 Ibid, s 61(5).
 Ibid, ss 61(4), (5).
 Bill 10, Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, 3rd Sess, 34th Leg, Yukon, 2020 (first reading 10 March 2020, assent November 9, 2020); Yukon, Legislative Assembly, “Progress of Bills”, online: <https://yukonassembly.ca/house-business/progress-bills>; Yukon, “Leave for domestic and sexualized violence coming to Yukon” (November 9, 2020), online: <https://yukon.ca/en/news/leave-domestic-and-sexualized-violence-coming-yukon>.