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OBA's elder law section response to aging population: Benmor

The emergence of the Ontario Bar Association’s (OBA) nascent elder law section was an inevitable reaction to Canada’s aging population, Toronto family lawyer, mediator and parenting co-ordinator Steven Benmor tells Law Times.

Benmor, principal of Benmor Family Law Group, was the section’s inaugural chairman. He says the idea of an OBA group devoted to the unique legal challenges of older adults was in the works long before it was launched in late 2017.

Five years ago, when Benmor was chairman of the OBA’s family law section, he stepped up his efforts to establish an elder law section.

“I would get numerous enquiries from lawyers dealing with elder issues that felt to them like family law matters but actually don’t really fit: things like partners with dementia or where one spouse was moving into a nursing home while the other was staying home,” he explains.

“The same thing was happening for lawyers in other sections.” 

Benmor also acted as a substitute decision-maker for his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s in her later years.  

“I realized there were [many] gaps and problems in the system for elderly people and that Ontarians were not really sure where to go to seek legal advice,” he says. 

“There are a lot of lawyers who interface with seniors, so we pulled together a working group including people with practices across the spectrum.”

According to the 2016 census, nearly six million Canadians are older than 65 years, a total that exceeded the number of those under 14 years of age for the first time, says the article. 

“Statistics Canada estimates that, by 2036, the number of seniors could exceed 10 million, accounting for about one-quarter of the entire population. By comparison, those aged over 65 made up just eight per cent of Canadians in 1971, a proportion that grew to 14 per cent by 2010,” it says.

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