About CCEL

Our History

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (“CCEL”) is a national, non-profit body dedicated to exploring the particular legal issues which affect older Canadians.

Our parent body, the B. C. Law Institute, first began studying issues of “elder law” in 1999 when, with support from the Law Foundation of British Columbia, it began project work on Private Care Agreements and Financial Arrangements: Loans and Guarantees between Family Members and Friends. Out of this and other Law Foundation supported initiatives came the growing realization of the need for a formalized Centre dedicated to legal issues of concern to older adults.

In July 2003, the B.C. Law Institute formally established the Canadian Centre for Elder Law. The mandate of the CCEL includes research, law reform, and education relating to legal issues of interest to older adults. Today, the CCEL is recognized for its expertise in Elder Law issues both in Canada and internationally.

Our Strengths and Priorities

Uncovering “hidden issues” is an important part of the work of the CCEL. These are legal issues that can dramatically affect older adults but may be buried beneath familial or systemic overlays. Typically these are also matters on which advice from a practicing lawyer is seldom sought. Identifying these issues and developing appropriate and sensitive ways of addressing them are important functions of the CCEL.

The CCEL is well situated to engage the larger community in identifying problems and developing solutions. An important part of the CCEL mandate is to be “reform-minded” and to seek better laws, policies, and systems for Canadian or international societies. If the laws are deficient or inadequate, recommendations for change can be developed and submitted to government or other appropriate agencies or groups. The CCEL has its roots in a law reform tradition, which has been an important part of the legal and governmental landscape in Canada since the 1960s.

Facilitation is integral to the work of the CCEL. If issues arise which the CCEL cannot specifically address, we will support those in need to find others who can help. Recently an issue arose regarding possible Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms infringement of older women with regards to a Canadian “pension-split” issue. The CCEL was able to facilitate Charter Challenge funding and link willing lawyers to argue this discrimination case in court. The CCEL will continue to be involved and to support those bringing this action in ways that are appropriate.

Another key area of our practice is demystifying the law.  In recent years the CCEL has created a number of tools that clarify obligations and rights under current laws.  CCEL has published tools targeting health care practitionners, non-profit organizations, and the general public.  These plain language resources are all available on the CCEL website.


The objectives of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law are: to enrich and inform the lives of older adults with the law; to meet the increasing need for legal education and research in relation to legal issues having particular significance for older adults; and, to serve as a national focal point for this emergent field. To current knowledge, it appears to be the only such Centre in the world and is currently serving as a model of interest for several other countries.

The CCEL also hosts the World Study Group on Elder Law, a group established October, 2005 to facilitate study and knowledge exchange internationally on issues affecting the legal rights of older adults worldwide.

The Program

The CCEL’s current projects and activities to advance these objectives are as follows: braces both legal and interdisciplinary channels.

Research and Scholarship

  • Developing academic research and writing in relation to legal issues that particularly touch on the lives of older adults
  • Fostering the publication of a scholarly Canadian journal devoted to Elder Law issues
  • Hosting the Canadian International Conference on Elder Law
  • Sponsoring the Annual Gregory Steele, Q.C. Student Paper Prize in Elder Law
  • Developing a national and international collection of Elder Law materials and case law

Law Reform

  • Identifying ways in which the law could be improved to encompass and develop the interests, rights and well-being of older adults
  • Participating in the development of solutions which empower older adults to live in a supportive legal environment
  • Pursuing topics concerned with ensuring the financial integrity of transactions involving older adults
  • Investigating law reform issues identified through CCEL scholarship and research
  • Carrying forward Elder Law projects concerned with law reform initiated by the British Columbia Law Institute

Information and Education

  • Developing education materials that focus on Elder Law issues for the legal profession, law and post-secondary student, health and financial professionals and the community at large
  • Identifying and working closely with other agencies concerned with the delivery of legal information to older adults and to the legal profession
  • Changing demographics make it inevitable that Elder Law is an area of significantly increased importance. The dedicated national focus that the CCEL brings to this area is unique in Canada and promotes the development of Elder Law as a coherent body of knowledge and law. The overarching goal of the CCEL is to provide a nexus between older adults and the law, to create a positive impact on Canadian society.

CCEL Services

The CCEL offers workshops and lectures on a variety of issues affecting older adults. Contact the CCEL at ccels@bcli.org for more information.

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