The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has initiated a project to develop a systematic framework for the law as it affects older adults. The focus of this Project is not on reform of any one specific issue related to older adults, although specific issues will be examined as examples. Rather, this Project aims to develop a coherent approach to this area of the law, which can be used as a template, or set of principles, in developing law reform proposals related to older adults, and in ensuring that new laws take into account the needs and circumstances of this group.

The Project began with a Pre-Study aimed at identifying preliminary principles, themes and issues to be pursued during the main stages of the Project. The LCO launched a Consultation Paper on Shaping the Project in May 2008. Based on feedback received through submissions and interviews, and the LCO’s own research, we have now identified preliminary principles, themes and issues for further research and examination. A Consultation Report will be issued shortly.

The LCO is now commencing the second stage of this Project, with this Call for Research Proposals. The LCO intends to fund relevant research that explores the themes, principles and issues resulting from the Consultation, with a view to identifying best practices and principles related to the law as it affects older adults. Completed research papers will be posted on the LCO’s website, and will form part of the basis for an Interim Report on a framework for the law as it affects older adults.



The LCO has identified five thematic areas for further research. These thematic areas may be explored through a variety of issues and topics, which may arise in a broad range of legal areas, including criminal, family, health, estates, consumer protection, labour, income security, housing or other areas of the law.  Further information on these themes and potential topics are provided in the Background Information document released with this Call for Papers. The LCO invites proposals that consider the questions raised in the following areas:

1. Developing an Anti-Ageist Approach to the Law

How does ageism operate through the law? What would an anti-ageist approach to the law look like? Laws, like government policies and programs, may be subtly influenced by ageism, and may reflect unwarranted stereotypes, attitudes and assumptions about older adults. As well, a neutral law may be administered in an ageist or paternalistic fashion. One aspect of ageism is the failure to take older adults into account, and to fail to see their capacities, their needs, their contributions, or their very existence.

2. Use of Age as a Legal Criterion

When, if ever, is it appropriate and effective to use age as a legal criterion? Attainment of a particular age is frequently a criterion for providing or restricting access to a wide range of programs, whether in the public or private sectors. This raises a foundational question for the law as it affects older adults: why should older adults be treated differently from other members of the community? If universal laws and requirements are insufficient for addressing the situation of older adults, why is that the case and in what circumstances?

3. Enhancing Access to the Law

What principles, support, systems and approaches best facilitate access to the law for older adults? Older adults may face a range of barriers to accessing and enforcing their legal rights, including physical, financial, informational and attitudinal barriers. It is important to consider not only how older adults can be better supported in accessing current systems, but how compliance mechanisms could be better designed to facilitate access for this group.

4. Aging and Relationships

How can the law appropriately recognize and support the range of interdependent relationships that are essential to the wellbeing of older adults? There are complex issues with respect to the recognition, support and regulation of the relationships of older persons. These include issues related to the recognition and respect for the sexuality of older persons, the role of older adults as both providers and recipients of care, and the role of the law in managing and regulating complex family dynamics.

5. Institutional Living

How can a principled framework for the law as it affects older adults be effectively applied to the unique circumstances of institutional living? Institutional living raises complex issues: what should be the role of institutions in the broader range of housing and support options for older adults? How can privacy, dignity, autonomy and participation be ensured in such settings? How can the rights of workers and the rights of residents in what is, after all, their homes, be balanced? What are the most effective mechanisms for ensuring that residents are safe, respected and receiving appropriate care.

The LCO takes a holistic approach to law reform, and encourages multi-disciplinary research and applications from interdisciplinary research teams.

Proposals should consider, as applicable:

1. The meaning of the term “older adult”;
2. The impact of domestic and international human rights laws and principles;
3. The application and interaction of the principles of independence (autonomy); dignity; security; and participation; 
4. The diversity among older adults, including differences related to age, sex, income, education, immigration and citizenship status, racialization or ethnic origin, family and marital status, area of geographic residence, sexual orientation, and mental, physical, intellectual or sensory disabilities;
5. Best practices and initiatives in other jurisdictions.


Budget Guideline

Selected applicants will receive up to $10,000 for their paper (including GST).



Contract researchers are expected to assign copyright to the LCO, but will retain moral rights to their work. Contract researchers will be given credit for their work when the LCO publishes materials resulting from their work in any format. Contract researchers may write separate materials, such as articles, arising out of their research for the LCO, with acknowledgement that the work was originally carried out for the LCO. Applicants are encouraged to review the LCO’s Policy on Copyright & Attribution available on the LCO website.



Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the degree to which they:

1. Further the objectives of this Call for Papers;
2. Are coherent with the mission of the LCO;
3. Demonstrate professional qualifications and expertise in the area to be studied; and
4. Demonstrate a sound analytic framework and research methodology.


Format of Proposals

Research proposals submitted to the LCO must contain the following materials:

1. A curriculum vitae for each principal researcher.

2. A cover letter detailing the applicant’s qualifications, and the reasons why the applicant is interested in undertaking this research.

3. A statement outlining the proposed research, how the research would support the objectives of this Project as outlined in this Call for Proposals, and the scope and type of work envisioned.

4. A workplan that outlines:
• the proposed research methodology;
• the steps required to complete the assignment, together with estimated timelines;
• an estimate of the resources required to complete the assignment.

Incomplete proposals will not be considered.


Proposal Deadlines

Research proposals must be submitted by midnight on Monday, January 19, 2009. Proposals received after this date will not be considered. Authors of successful proposals will be notified by Friday, January 30, 2009.


Deliverables and Timetable

Selected applicants must provide the LCO with the following deliverables by these dates:

Detailed project outline: Friday, March 13, 2009
Draft paper: Friday, June 26th, 2009
Final versions of paper: Friday, July 31st, 2009


Contact Information

Your proposal should be forwarded to:

Lauren Bates
Staff Lawyer
Law Commission of Ontario
276 York Lanes, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON  M3J 1P3

(416) 650-8