British Columbia Public Guardian and Trustee: Gold Level Sponsor of the 2019 Canadian Elder Law Conference

13 November 2019

By Alison Leaney

This post is part of a series highlighting key themes and presenters from the 2019 Elder Law Conference. To see the other posts in the seriesclick here.



The British Columbia Public Guardian and Trustee is pleased to be a sponsor of the 2019 Canadian Elder Law Conference.

In Services to Adults the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) protects the legal, financial, personal and health care interests of adults who require assistance in decision making. The following services are provided from one or more of our three offices located in Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna:

Assessment and Investigations Services
Each year many people call the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) to find out what they can do to help a friend or relative who is not able to manage their finances on their own or to report possible abuse, neglect or self-neglect of an adult who may not be able to manage independently. British Columbia’s laws give the PGT and designated agencies (health authorities and Community Living BC) the ability to respond to concerns about a vulnerable adult.

The PGT can provide initial support by:  

  • providing information on options available to help the adult;
  • consulting on problems related to complex risk situations involving abuse, neglect or self- neglect; or initiating an investigation, if required.

The PGT will start an investigation when:

  • there is a concern that the adult may be mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs;
  • there is a specific, urgent or immediate need with assets at risk; and
  • there is no other suitable person (family or friend) who has the authority or is willing and able to act on the adult’s behalf

The purpose of an investigation is to better understand the risk and determine how the adult can be best supported by family, friends and or community in the most effective and least intrusive manner. Sometimes PGT being appointed as committee of estate is the best option given the adult’s circumstances.

Personal Decision Services

BC’s care facility admission legislation came into force on November 4, 2019. To coincide with this, the PGT launched our new Personal Decision Services department to include health care decision making and new duties regarding care facility admission. The PGT is named under both parts of the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act as either temporary substitute decision-maker (TSDM) of last resort for health care decisions under Part 2 or substitute decision-maker (SDM) of last resort for care facility admission decisions under Part 3. If there is no willing, available and qualified substitute or there is a dispute between equally ranked family decision-makers, the PGT can authorize a suitable TSDM for health care treatment decisions or a suitable SDM for facility admission. If it is unclear who to choose between equally ranked substitutes, the PGT will make the substitute treatment and/or facility admission decisions. More information about how we are operationalizing our new role under the care facility admission provisions are outlined in our new publication Care Facility Admission and the Role of the PGT


Financial Management and Personal Decision Making Services

The Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) provides a wide range of direct financial management and legal decision-making services for vulnerable adults. For the majority of PGT adult clients, the PGT is committee of estate under the Patients Property Act with responsibility for the legal and financial management of our clients’ affairs. When the PGT is appointed committee of estate, PGT staff work with the client to establish an effective management plan that includes managing property and investments, paying bills, securing assets and pursuing compensation where appropriate.

As committee, the PGT supports and promotes a client’s independence and involves the client where possible in key decision making. The case manager will meet with the client to identify needs, priorities, the level of participation and to develop a management plan. If assets are secure and the adult is able, the PGT will minimize its involvement in day to day decisions such as grocery shopping and entertainment.  Many clients still maintain and use their own bank accounts.  

In situations where there are financial decisions that may impact personal or health care decisions, the PGT works collaboratively with the adult and/or others who have legal authority, such as a committee of person or representative, to ensure that decisions the PGT makes are in the best interests of the client.   


Review of Court Applications and Monitoring of Private Committees

PGT is served with applications for the appointment of a committee and reviews the documentation submitted to court to determine whether the requirements of the Patients Property Act have been met, whether the applicant is the appropriate party to act as committee, and whether provisions should be included in the order such as bonding or restricted access to assets.

The PGT’s Private Committee Services department (PCS) helps committees to understand their role and monitors the actions of committees by reviewing their accounts on a regular basis and undertaking investigations when concerns are reported.  Our Private Committee Handbook contains details of the roles and responsibilities of private committees once appointed and gives guidelines as to how to exercise these as committee. Reporting to the PGT is a statutory requirement for all Private Committees of Estate.

Canadian Elder Law Conference

The Canadian Elder Law Conference, entitled Bridging the Gap: Elder Law for Everyone, will be taking place from November 14-15, 2019 in Vancouver, BC. For more information on how to become a sponsor or how to register for the conference, visit the CCEL’s Canadian Elder Law Conference page.

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