With more than 240,000 Ontario seniors estimated to be living with some form of dementia today, being able to locate seniors in the first 24 hours after they go missing is crucial to saving lives.
Ontario is putting the safety of seniors first by providing police officers with more tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to missing persons investigations.
“Every minute counts when a senior goes missing to help keep them safe,” said MPP Paul Calandra. “This is another example of how our government is putting seniors and their families first by providing essential frontline services new tools to help find our missing loved ones faster.
“We are protecting what matters most to help seniors live independently in their communities, while also helping to ensure they are safe.”
The Missing Persons Act, proclaimed by the government on July 1, 2019, provides police with three additional tools to use when there is no evidence a crime has been committed. These tools will allow police to: obtain copies of records that many assist in research, obtain a search warrant to enter a premise to locate a missing person, and make an urgent demand for certain records without a court order.
The Act also includes guidelines on what information police may disclose about a missing person before and after they have been located.
Previously, when a person went missing without evidence of criminal activity, police were limited in the ways they could investigate. With this legislation, police can now respond to missing persons investigations quicker, while balancing concerns for an individual’s privacy.
“Police and family members tell us that the first hours after someone goes missing are the most critical,” said Sylvia Jones, solicitor general. “That’s why we’re providing our frontline heroes with more tools to quickly find our loved ones.”
Fifty per cent of those who go missing for 24 hours or more risk serious injury or even death, while 60 per cent of people living with dementia will go missing at some point, often without warning.
“There is no requirement to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in Ontario,” Calandra points out. “Nearly 7,500 people were reported missing in Ontario in 2018.”
Earlier this year, Calandra welcomed Minister of Health Christine Elliott to the Markham community to announce 576 new Long Term Care beds.
“The new beds represent an increase of 79 per cent of the 728 beds we have currently, and will make an enormous and important difference to our community,” Calandra said.