June 14, 2021

WEAAD event takes aim at preventing senior financial abuse

Winnipeg –
In recognition of June Seniors Month and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), the Manitoba Financial Services Agency (MFSA) has convened a panel of local and national experts to offer advice and answer important questions on protecting older Manitobans from financial exploitation and mistreatment.

Senior Financial Abuse: Detection, Prevention and Resolution,” is a Facebook Live event launching Tuesday, June 15, at 3 p.m. The free event, hosted by MoneySmart Manitoba (an MFSA initiative), will focus on spotting the signs of financial abuse, taking precautions to stop abuse from happening, and ending abusive situations.


Speakers include Laura Tamblyn Watts, president and chief executive officer of CanAge; Dana Nelko, a lawyer with Fillmore Riley LLP; and policy expert Nicole Prokoppa with Cambrian Credit Union.


“The MFSA is absolutely committed to the financial wellbeing of older Manitobans,” says David Cheop, MFSA CEO. “Looking out for one another, for our friends and neighbours, has always been a part of life on the prairies. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we provide the support and resources the seniors in our lives may need. We are very pleased to host these distinguished speakers and applaud their volunteering time and energy to engage with Manitoba seniors, families, and caregivers on this important topic.


Research shows between four and ten percent of older adults in Manitoba have been victims of senior financial abuse, which can include outright theft of money or credit cards, pressure to lend money without repayment, or financial exploitation of a person experiencing cognitive decline. This year’s WEAAD comes at a time when many Manitoba seniors are already grappling with increased isolation due to ongoing social distancing orders and lockdown protocols.


“Elder abuse and neglect is skyrocketing across Canada,” says Tamblyn Watts, who also teaches a course on law and aging at the University of Toronto. “COVID has made things much worse for many individuals—exacerbating existing problems within families while creating new challenges for older Canadians who may already lack much needed supports.”


According to Statistics Canada, there were 12.1 million people age 55 and older in Canada in 2020. In Manitoba, more than 15 per cent of our population is over age 65, and that number will continue to grow over the next decade. With seniors living longer, impaired decision-making ability becomes more of a concern.

“In 1991, the average Canadian could expect to live to age 78
,” says Nelko, who specializes in wills and estate law and is recognized as a national expert on estate litigation and power of attorney. Today, life expectancy has increased to about 82, and concerns with respect to disability and diminished capacity have become more prominent. There are 25,000 Canadians diagnosed with dementia every year1, and it is expected there will 912,000 Canadians living with dementia in 20301. Thus, the need to manage our estates while we are still able has now become a key focus for lawyers and financial advisors. So-called ‘living wills’—healthcare directives and power of attorney have become more important for Boomers than for their parents’ generation.”


Financial service providers also play a role in early detection of financial abuse. New training and policies in Canadian credit unions are encouraging staff to look for signs that an older individual may be experiencing abuse.


“Social isolation and diminishing cognitive ability can combine to affect judgement, which in turn can affect the ability to make sound financial decisions,” says Prokoppa, who has spearheaded policy within the credit union sector geared toward recognizing financial abuse through irregularities in day-to-day interactions with older members. “People end up being taken advantage of by family or friends—it’s not uncommon, unfortunately. We’re training staff to identify situations that don’t seem right, such as unusually large withdrawals, odd investments, or even signs of physical abuse. We report what we see to authorities and community professionals.”


“We’re looking forward to the WEAAD event,” says Prokoppa. “Whether you’re family, a friend, a professional supporting older Manitobans, or you’re a senior yourself, we’re going to cover a lot of ground, and answer a lot of good questions.”


Questions for the experts are welcome and encouraged, before, during, and after on the event’s Facebook page.


Senior Financial Abuse: Detection, Prevention and Resolution,” takes place on Tuesday, June 15 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. LIVE on the MoneySmart Manitoba Facebook page.


The Manitoba Financial Services Agency is a Special Operating Agency of the Government of Manitoba. Through its two divisions, The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) and Financial Institutions Regulation Branch (FIRB), the MFSA regulates securities, real estate, cooperatives, credit unions, and insurance in the province.


CanAge is Canada's national seniors' advocacy organization, working to improve the lives of older adults through advocacy, policy, and community engagement.

Fillmore Riley LLP is a highly regarded and accomplished full-service Manitoba law firm. Since 1883, our lawyers have been entrusted to work on some of the most complex and sophisticated transactions and litigation. With a clear directive, we empower our clients to make smart, pragmatic, and strategic decisions to achieve their goals. And, we’re with them every step of the way.

Established in 1959, Cambrian Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions serving the Winnipeg and Selkirk marketplaces. With more than $4.1 billion in assets and over 66,000 members, we strive to help each of our members build strong financial foundations for making their dreams come true. This is not only our mission, but our core purpose.


1Alzheimer Society of Canada: Dementia Numbers in Canada


Media Inquiries:                      
Jason Booth, Communications Coordinator, MFSA  |  204.945.1660 |