Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on Motion No. 203, a motion to protect seniors from fraud. I am pleased to see my colleague, the hon. member for Richmond Centre, take bold leadership in her role as the shadow minister for seniors.
Canada's seniors built this country into what it is today, and they continue to contribute through acts of volunteerism and giving of their time for the betterment of their communities. Every day we can find those in the senior demographic among the many volunteers at food banks, in coaching roles or organizing fundraisers for non-profits. Unfortunately, some seniors continue to work to stay above water so that they can make it to the end of the month.
Although I am pleased to speak on Motion No. 203, I am also disheartened at the necessity of this motion. Too often, Canadian seniors are the target of fraud. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Canadians aged 60 to 69 are most likely to fall victim to scam artists. Scam artists can be a neighbour, a so-called friend or even family.
We are living in a digital age. It is not a rare sight to see a baby being entertained with an iPad or to see grandparents Skyping their grandchildren across the country. We all use technology. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that in this digital age, 51% of those who fall victim to things like mass marketing fraud are targeted online.
As legislators, we must take leadership to protect our most vulnerable, and I am proud to be a member of the caucus that stands up for our seniors and our most vulnerable. All of us, I am sure, would not want to see our loved ones fall for something like this, but it can happen to anyone. It is also commonplace for my constituency office to be visited by a senior who has unfortunately fallen into the trap of giving away personal information, oftentimes giving away money, and they are embarrassed by that.
I am also happy to note that the citizens of Barrie—Innisfil can expect an information pamphlet on CRA tax scams. It will land at their door either this week or next. I have sent it to every household in the riding. It will outline measures to recognize and prevent fraud.
It is important to know that there are many myths surrounding those who are targeted and fall victim to fraud. It is a common myth that mass market fraud targets those with lower levels of education. This is simply not the case. According to a report for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, fraud affects victims regardless of their level of education. It is also wrong to assume that the wealthy are more likely to be victims of fraud; nobody is immune. Besides actions against fraudsters, it is also important that the public, especially our seniors, be aware of and know the signs of fraud.
I would also like to highlight and applaud the work of the Barrie Police Service and the South Simcoe Police Service on their work and initiatives to educate our seniors about the different types of fraud. Sandycove Acres holds a seniors academy at which the South Simcoe Police come in and talk to residents in Sandycove Acres about how to prevent themselves from falling victim to fraud.
Three weeks ago I visited seniors homes to talk about seniors and to listen to their concerns. I also highlighted the importance of recognizing and preventing fraud and described how our office could help.
I must give credit, though, because we cannot overestimate just how smart these fraudsters are. As technology evolves and new methods of combatting fraud are put into force, fraudsters will always find new methods and new lines of attack. In my capacity as a member of Parliament, I am fortunate to speak with law enforcement officers, who always highlight the importance of the evolution of methods to combat fraud. Unfortunately, I hear over and over again that legislation has not changed or evolved.
If we look at combatting fraud through a legislative lens, we see that Canada is surely behind. I have spoken to numerous officers who say they struggle to find the tools needed to prevent and combat fraud, not only against seniors but also in terms of protecting children and other vulnerable citizens online.
I would like to highlight the improvements the previous Conservative government has made in the lives of our seniors.
It is astonishing to know that abuse happens to an estimated 4% to 10% of older adults in Canada. This includes frauds against seniors. Even more alarming, only one in five instances of elder abuse is reported.
In January of 2013, the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act was put into force. This amended the Criminal Code of Canada, which took age into consideration for criminal sentencing purposes.
In the 2014 budget, we also stood for victims, especially our seniors, by passing the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
The Conservatives have always stood behind seniors. The work the hon. member for Richmond Centre has done on their behalf is immeasurable. Under her guidance and the work of many in the previous government, the Conservatives have not only made strides in protecting our seniors, but leaving more money in their pockets as well. The previous Conservative government introduced measures like the age credit, the pension income tax credit, pension income splitting, as well as raising awareness and increasing digital and financial literacy.
Since seniors are our fastest growing demographic right now, it is also important that we build on the previous government's commitments to seniors, especially with respect to protecting elder abuse and fraud.
Once again, I am thankful for the South Simcoe Police Service and the Barrie Police Service, which, day after day, ensure that our seniors are protected against the evils that lurk behind those screens and also work so hard to bring justice to those who choose to harm our elderly.
I am looking forward to the motion being passed by the House and working with all hon. colleagues to protect those who mean the most to us, our seniors.