Ontario Government Protects Vulnerable People



    Quick Action Taken After Irregularities Discovered Involving Former
    Employee Of Office Of The Public Guardian And Trustee

    TORONTO, Aug. 8 /CNW/ - Attorney General Michael Bryant has taken
immediate steps after the discovery of financial irregularities involving one
former employee of the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
    "It is totally unacceptable to think that anyone would take advantage of
those who are incapable of protecting themselves," Bryant said. "The clients
of this office and the public at large deserve swift action to get to the
bottom of these allegations and to rectify any wrongs immediately."

    Actions taken to date include:

    
    -   The OPP have been called and are conducting a criminal investigation
    -   The individual is no longer an employee of the Office of the Public
        Guardian and Trustee
    -   The Honourable Coulter Osborne will provide independent advice to
        affected clients and their families and ensure full reimbursement of
        any losses
    -   A team of auditors, with the assistance of the Auditor General and an
        outside accounting firm, has been set up to make recommendations to
        prevent this from happening in the future
    -   A special response team has been established to assist Mr. Osborne to
        field calls from concerned clients and family members. The team can
        be contacted at OPGTprojectteam@ontario.ca or 1-866-587-5386
    -   An immediate internal review of processes and procedures related to
        the handling of client accounts is underway.

    "For more than 80 years, the many staff members of the Office of the
Public Guardian and Trustee have earned a solid reputation as being
conscientious and dedicated to protecting and acting in the best interests of
their clients," Bryant said. "I am doing everything in my power to find out
what may have gone wrong in this instance and to ensure it never happens
again."

    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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            PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF MENTALLY INCAPABLE ADULTS

    What is the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee?

    The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) delivers a unique and
diverse range of services that safeguard the legal, personal and financial
interests of a number of private individuals and estates. It also plays an
important role in monitoring the activities of charities in Ontario.

    The OPGT protects the interests of mentally incapable adults, including:

    -   conducting investigations when it receives information that an adult
        may be mentally incapable and at risk of suffering serious financial
        or personal harm
    -   managing the financial affairs of incapable people who have no one
        else who is authorized to do so
    -   arranging legal representation for people who are the subject of a
        hearing about their mental capacity
    -   making decisions about personal care such as place of residence,
        nutrition, hygiene, clothing and health care
    -   making decisions about long-term care or medical treatment on behalf
        of incapable people where there are no other people who can do so.
    

    How many people are served by the OPGT?

    Thousands of incapable adults receive proper and timely medical treatment
through the decision-making services of the OPGT.
    Every year the OPGT pays more than one million bills for services such as
rent, hydro, heat and telephone on behalf of clients.

    How many people work at the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee?

    OPGT has approximately 350 staff operating through offices in six
locations throughout Ontario. Teams of dedicated staff with experience in the
health care, social work and financial planning fields provide services to
thousands of clients across the province. They receive professional support
from lawyers, accountants and investigators.

    What is the history of the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee?

    For more than 500 years, English Common Law has given governments a
special responsibility to protect the interests of mentally incapable adults
and charities.
    In 1919, the Attorney General of the day appointed Kenneth Waked Wright
as Ontario's first Public Trustee. Mr. Wright was given responsibility for
administering the estates of patients of psychiatric facilities, managing the
estates of those who died without a will in Ontario and without known next of
kin, and ensuring that charitable property was protected.
    Until the 1960s, most clients were patients of psychiatric facilities. In
the last few decades, factors such as de-institutionalization and an aging
population have changed the nature and complexity of the types of decisions
made by the Public Trustee.
    On April 3, 1995, the laws on incapacity were updated to fill gaps and
inconsistencies in the old legislation. Now known as the Office of the Public
Guardian and Trustee, the office plays a more vital role than ever in
representing and protecting the personal and property interests of incapable
people.

    
    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General,
Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Brendan Crawley, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2210

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Ontario Ministry of The Attorney General

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