NDP pledges to fight elder abuse
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton has promised to change the criminal code to ensure stiffer penalties for elder abuse if elected.
Layton also pledged to invest in a National Elder Abuse Strategy, establish an elder abuse hotline and create specialized services to help seniors and families dealing with situations of elder abuse.
"As Prime Minister, I will make fighting elder abuse a key priority," Layton said during a campaign stop in Halifax Sunday.
"We owe nothing less to the people who built and fought for our country. My plan gets tough on those who abuse seniors, and provides the help families need to cope when a family member is being victimized."
Layton's pledge to fight elder abuse is in addition to other promises made to help seniors, including helping 250,000 seniors out of poverty, making prescription drugs more affordable and expanding home care and housing options.
"Ottawa is not giving seniors the respect they deserve," Layton said.
"It's time for that to change. It's time for leadership Canadians can trust to fix Ottawa and focus on the right priorities."
Tories promised similar crackdown
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper made a similar pledge on Friday, promising to change the criminal code to add vulnerability due to age as an aggravating factor in elder abuse.
Harper said those who prey on vulnerable seniors should get sentences that reflect society's condemnation of elder abuse crimes.
A 2007 report by Statistics Canada showed reports of violence against seniors rose 20 per cent between 1998 and 2005.
In 2005, there were 160 violent incidents for every 100,000 seniors, almost 14 times lower than the rate recorded for persons aged 15 to 24.