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    Exploitation

    Exploitation means taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability or dependency to deprive them of their rights.

    Exploitation of elderly people and people with a disability is prohibited in Québec by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

    • You do not have to accept exploitation.
    • You cannot exploit others.

    No one can exploit you - this includes parents, children, friends, relatives and patient care attendants.

    • Examples of exploitation

      • Taking advantage of an elderly person’s vulnerability to gain access to their bank accounts and use their money for yourself
      • Preventing a person with a disability who depends on you from receiving the medical care they require
    • How to recognize exploitation?

      Exploitation happens to elderly people or people with a disability who are:

      1. Physically, psychologically, socially, financially or culturally vulnerable

      Vulnerable means being unable to protect yourself or your property. 

      Often, vulnerable people depend on another person for their basic needs. For example, eating, bathing or taking care of themselves.

      Some indicators of vulnerability are:

      • advanced age
      • physical or mental illness
      • loss of autonomy
      • cognitive (memory) loss associated with aging
      • isolation
      • the death of a spouse
      • illiteracy
      • fear of reprisals

      Victims of exploitation often have more than one of these. The indicators of vulnerability can take different forms in different contexts.


      2. Victims of financial, physical or psychological abuse

      • Examples of financial abuse:
        • using someone’s credit or debit card for expenses that do not concern them
        • requiring someone to pay for services they did not receive
      • Examples of physical or psychological abuse:
        • isolating someone by preventing them from receiving visitors or communicating with their friends and family
        • preventing someone from receiving appropriate medical care

      Financial exploitation is the most common type of exploitation and the type that is most often reported to the Commission.

      Financial abuse often causes psychological distress to the victim. It is also sometimes combined with physical abuse.


      What is the difference between exploitation and abuse?

      There is a difference between exploitation and abuse, but elderly people and people with a disability are protected from both.

      Abuse is a broader concept than exploitation. Abuse is when, within a trust relationship, someone acts (or fails to act appropriately) and in doing so causes harm or distress to the other person. The action or failure to act can be an isolated event, or can be repetitive. It can be intentional or unintentional. 

      The Commission’s mission allows us to intervene in cases of exploitation. Other organizations can intervene in cases of abuse. The Elder Mistreatment Helpline can help you find help in cases of abuse.

    • Reporting exploitation

      You can report exploitation to the Commission even if you are unable to obtain the consent of the person you believe to be the victim. Note that the Commission respects the autonomy of the elderly person or the person with a disability. We therefore consider the victim’s wishes above all, where the situation permits.

      Reporting exploitation

      In situations of physical or sexual abuse, contact:


      How will the Commission help you?

      The Commission intervenes quickly when we are informed that an elderly person or a person with a disability is being exploited. We can:

      • take all appropriate measures to put an end to the exploitation, to ensure the safety of the elderly person or the person with a disability, and to obtain redress for the harm suffered
      • request an emergency court order

      If it is impossible to obtain the victim’s consent, then the Commission can intervene without their consent.

      If the Commission cannot intervene in your situation, we will refer you to the organizations and resources that can.

    Janette's story

    Janette, who has Alzheimer's disease, has been exploited by her daughter and son-in-law. It was the bank employee who reported the situation to the Commission.

    Read her story

    What can you do in cases of exploitation?

    Do you think you have experienced exploitation, or do you have reason to believe that an elderly person or a person with a disability in your community has experienced exploitation?

    You can contact the Commission to ask for help, file a complaint or report the situation.

    File a complaint or submit a report

    Learn more...

    Find all our publications, training and other resources on exploitation.

    Resources on exploitation

    This video explains exploitation in American Sign Language (ASL)