New adult abuse registry proposed in Manitoba

Would be used by employers to screen potential employees, volunteers
||Last Updated: 05/12/2011

Employers providing services to people with intellectual disabilities couldsoon be required to conduct a search of a new adult abuse registry beingproposed in Manitoba.

The registry,expected to be operational in spring 2012, would include the names of those whoabuse or neglect vulnerable adults and would be used by employers to screenpotential employees or volunteers.

"Peoplewith disabilities have the right to live free from abuse and neglect and it isour responsibility to ensure our most vulnerable citizens are safe and canparticipate in their communities without fear," said Family Services andConsumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh.

There are two ways that an individual would be put on the registry. Individualsconvicted of an offence against a vulnerable person under any act would beautomatically placed on the registry.  Where there is no conviction, aperson could be referred to an adult abuse registry committee, which woulddetermine if that person should be placed on the registry based on a findingthat abuse or neglect occurred. 

"As aservice provider, I am very pleased with the development of this new registryas it will provide a valuable tool to enable employers to thoroughly screen jobapplicants," said Jennifer Frain, executive director of NewDirections.  "It is critical that we take all steps possible toensure the safety and security of the vulnerable adults in
our care."

This wouldbe the first phase of the adult abuse registry, said Mackintosh, and the nextphase would cover people who are in health-care facilities, such as personal-carehomes and hospitals. It is expected the registry will continue expanding tocover other vulnerable populations in the future.

In addition to the registry, several new provisions are being proposed toprotect Manitobans with intellectual disabilities.  These would mean:

• no one could abuse or neglect an adult with an intellectual disability
• service providers or substitute decision-makers would have a duty to take allreasonable steps to protect an individual
• anyone who is aware of abuse or neglect would have a duty to report it
• anyone whoreports abuse or neglect, including employees of service agencies, would beprotected from retaliation.

The penalties would be increased to a maximum of $50,000 from a maximum of$2,000 or 24 months in jail up from a maximum of six months. The timelineto launch a prosecution would also be lengthened to two years
from six months. 

The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act was created in 1996to provide protection for people with an intellectual disability whilerespecting their individual rights.  The proposed changes address a gap inthe act that has made it difficult to charge anyone for abuse or neglect of anadult with an intellectual disability.

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