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B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie, seen here in Victoria on Dec. 15, 2017, says there’s a lack of awareness about what classifies as elder abuse.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

B.C.’s seniors advocate says calls related to the abuse of elders have jumped, prompting a more thorough review of the problem.

In her annual report monitoring seniors services, Isobel Mackenzie found calls to the seniors abuse and information line increased by 17 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

The report says there were 5,558 calls to the seniors line, and 28 per cent of them were related to abuse.

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However, the report says the advocate’s office has identified a lack of effective tools for measuring the abuse and neglect of seniors, which caused the follow-up review with a report expected next year.

The report covers everything from health care to transportation based on data from 2019-20.

Ms. Mackenzie says there’s a lack of awareness about what classifies as elder abuse, adding that people don’t know where to report abuse and there’s no way to track it.

The report released Tuesday says there were 1,672 victims in the category of violent offences against seniors reported to the RCMP, while more than 19,000 seniors complained of property offences, such as theft or vandalism.

There are indications most abuse of seniors is financial, with about half of it stemming from family members, based on surveys the office has done and data it has collected, Mackenzie said.

Ms. Mackenzie said the 17-per-cent increase relates to a very small number of calls. With one million seniors in the province, those figures don’t give a true measure of abuse, she told an online news conference.

“Yes, the increase is concerning, but what’s even more concerning is we’re clearly missing a whole bunch that’s out there.”

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Her report says emotional abuse was the most common type of harm reported to the seniors abuse and information line last year, at 32 per cent. That was followed by financial abuse at 29 per cent and physical abuse at 10 per cent.

Ms. Mackenzie said there also aren’t enough people in the province who know about the abuse and information line.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

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