This Part brings together the elements from Parts I and II to create a practical guide for developing new laws, policies and practices or evaluating existing one. It is intended to assist in identifying existing or potential negative effects of current or planned laws, policies or practices on older adults. It sets out a series of questions that users of the Framework may ask themselves to assess the law, policy or practice in question. 

For ease of use, the questions are broken down into six sections:

  1. Taking into older adults into account in considering the potential effects of laws and policies.
  2. Learning about the law or policy which examines how we learn whether and how older adults are affected by a proposed or existing law or policy. 
  3. Identifying the older adults who may be affected by the law or policy.
  4. Evaluating how older adults are affected by the wording of the law or policy, including questions that consider whether the strategies selected for addressing the general purpose of the law or policy are consistent with the principles, and take into account the circumstances of older persons.
  5. Understanding how older adults are affected by the manner in which the law or policy is implemented, which asks questions that will assist in evaluating whether in practice the law or policy is having the intended effect and is having a positive or negative effect on the lives of older adults.
  6. Monitoring and evaluating the law or policy, once implemented. Monitoring and evaluation of laws and policies naturally connects to reviews of laws and policies, leading back to the first section and pointing to the need for regular reassessment of laws and policies. 

This Part provides guidance on applying the elements of the framework as outlined in Parts I and II to specific laws, policies and practices, through a series of questions for consideration. 

It is not the purpose of the questions to point to simple, definitive answers to all of the difficult issues that may arise in developing laws, policies and practices that may affect older adults. The law and the circumstances of older adults are complex and diverse. The nature of aging and our understanding of it are constantly evolving. Rather, the questions are intended to ensure that law and policy makers carefully:

  • Consider and apply a consistent set of principles in developing laws and policies that may affect older adults;
  • Ensure that potential sources of paternalism and ageism in laws and policies are identified and addressed;
  • Take into account the key aspects of the experiences and needs of older adults; 

A particular question may be based on more than one principle or more than one aspect of the lives of older adults. 

Given the variety of laws affecting older adults, not all questions will apply to all laws, policies and practices.  

Many of the questions in this Part are based on good general practice and are not necessarily specific to the law as it affects older adults. All laws and policy development will benefit from good consultation mechanisms and most laws would be improved by the inclusion of appropriate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Older adults, like all citizens, will benefit from the use of good practices in these and other respects. In addition however, failure to engage in good practice may have particularly significant effects on those who are already disadvantaged, including disadvantaged or marginalized older adults. 

The questions are broken down into six sections, reflecting different aspects of laws, policies and practices. A table showing the sections and their relationships to each other is appended below. 

 

A.   Evaluating Law and Policy – Taking Older Adults Into Account 

At the outset of the law or policy process, law or policy-makers generally identify an issue to be addressed through the law or policy – that is, the general purpose of the law or policy.  

This is a crucial stage for law reform: disadvantaged or marginalized groups often have difficulty bringing visibility or priority to their issues, so that the law is not infrequently silent on issues that are central to their concerns. As well, the potential impact of a law on groups that are not its main targets may be easily overlooked at this stage, leading to issues for those groups when the law or policy is implemented.  

It is therefore important that, during this stage, consideration be given to whether or not older adults may be affected by the potential law. Whether a new law is being developed, or an existing law reviewed, law and policy-makers should ensure, through their processes and deliberations, that adequate attention has been given to whether older adults or some group of older adults may be affected, and if so, what those effects might be.

 

QUESTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION

Have the potential effects of the law on older adults been considered, regardless of whether it is a law specifically referencing older age or a law of general application? 

Has the way in which the law may relate to the principles been identified? 

Has the way in which the law may affect older adults been identified? 

Has the group(s) of older adults who may be affected by the law been identified? 

Has consideration been given to how the proposed law may impact on particular groups of older adults, including:

  • Women? 
  • Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons? 
  • Aboriginal people, both urban and in First Nations communities? 
  • Racialized individuals? 
  • Low-income persons? 
  • Recent immigrants? 
  • Francophones? 
  • Those for whom neither of Canada’s official languages is a first language? 
  • Religious minorities? 
  • Persons with disabilities, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, cognitive, developmental or other disabilities? 
  • Those with significant caregiving responsibilities? 
  • Those living in long-term care facilities or other types of congregate living? 
  • Those who are widowed, divorced or single? and 
  • Those who are socially isolated? 

Has a life course analysis been applied in considering how the law may impact on older adults with various backgrounds and experiences?

 

 

B.   How Do We Learn About Effects On Older Adults?

This section focuses on the process by which laws and policies are developed or reviewed. Subsequent sections will consider the substance and implementation of laws and policies.  

It is as important to avoid ageism and the marginalization of older adults in the process of developing or reviewing laws and policies as it is to identify and avoid this in the substance of laws and policies. Indeed, a flawed development process may very well result in laws and policies that are flawed in their substance. Older adults must be considered during the process of developing laws, and included, respected and consulted during that process.  

The “Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing” identifies three aspects of participation for older adults in decision-making processes:

  1. Taking into account the needs and concerns of older adults when making decisions,
  2. Encouraging the establishment of organizations to represent older adults in decision-making, and
  3. Taking measures to enable the full and equal participation of older persons, in particular women, in decision-making at all levels. 

Laws and policies may be analyzed and evaluated for their impact on older persons either:

  • at the time that they are being developed, or
  • later on as part of an assessment of their effectiveness or a law reform initiative.

The process of evaluation will differ somewhat depending on whether the law or policy is an existing one or is in development, since a review will naturally focus more heavily on analysis of the effectiveness and impact of the law or policy, and less on its original intent.  

The questions below address the two main means through which potential effects on older adults may be identified, and older adults may be involved in the law reform process: research and public consultation. 

Research

Research during the law or policy development process may take a variety of forms, but generally seeks to ensure a solid understanding of the potential implications and effects of a proposed law or policy. It is important that during this process potential effects on marginalized or disadvantaged groups not be overlooked, and that the research process not be tainted by stereotypes or assumptions.  

Depending on the scope and depth of a review of an existing law or policy, research may include a review and analysis of a wide range of data related to the implementation and impact of the law or policy, including, for example:

  • Levels of awareness about the law or policy among the general public or targeted groups,
  • Measurable effects on the issues the law or policy was intended to address,
  • Perceptions regarding the accessibility of complaints and enforcement mechanisms, and
  • The number and types of complaints regarding access to or implementation of the law or policy. 

Often a major challenge in reviewing existing law or policy is locating information on the impact of the law or policy on older adults or on specific groups of older adults. In many cases, there is a dearth of in