Adult guardianship laws "outdated"

Some British Columbians could be declared "incapable" by health authorities and lose the right to make their own financial and legal decisions under an outdated law and flawed investigative process, says the province's ombudsperson.

Kim Carter released 28 recommendations Wednesday following an investigation into adult guardianship in this province.

Public guardians or trustees are often appointed when an adult has failed to plan in advance before becoming incapacitated or has nobody, such as a family member, to make decisions on their behalf.

A public guardian or trustee assumes control of an individual's financial and legal decisions following an investigation and after a health authority issues a certificate of incapability or by an order through the Supreme Court of B.C.

Carter said the Patients Property Act, which authorizes those actions, is similar to a law that was on the books in 1962.

"The process has been recognized for a number of years as being outdated and failing to meet the requirements of a fair and reasonable procedure," said Carter in her report.

"It has not changed significantly in the past 50 years. It reflects not only an older approach to the treatment of mental health issues but also a pre-Charter of Rights and Freedoms approach to respecting the procedural rights of individuals."

Of Carter's 28 recommendations, 24 have already been accepted, one has been accepted partially and three have not been accepted.

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