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PLEASE NOTE:  The Elder Rights Defenders site is no longer being updated, but it has information and links to online resources that we hope are helpful.

Elder Rights Defenders was established to help families get the care your loved ones deserve by helping you navigate healthcare and legal systems during conflict with authorities.



When the healthcare system starts working against you, it can be difficult to know how to respond.

We educate you on the tools, techniques, and resources you can use to help you better navigate the healthcare and legal systems to ensure that your family member is protected from harm.



Conflict with healthcare & other authorities can be overwhelming, stressful, & one-sided.

We take action as an interested 3rd party to prevent authorities from abusing their power and usurping your legal rights. We advocate on your behalf to prevent, stop, or expose wrong-doing.



Sometimes you have no other option but to take legal action, but who can really help?

We provide access to trusted lawyers, doctors, and other health care professionals who work with us to stop institutional elder abuse to ensure the safe care of loved ones.

If you or a family member needs help, please contact us

We help seniors and their families who are experiencing conflicts with health care providers, government agencies and the legal system. All information provided to Elder Rights Defenders is held in strictest confidence and only released to a third party upon receipt of written permission.

Who We Help

We hear from families every day about elders being subject to some form of institutional neglect, or abuse. With an aging population and lax accountability, conflicts about quality of care are inevitable.

Many of our clients come to us stressed, overwhelmed, and bewildered. They are shocked at the level of coercion and animosity they’ve experienced from healthcare providers and other system actors. They’ve been blind-sided by the arcane legal tribunals setup to deal with healthcare conflict. They’ve been bullied, threatened, harassed, and lied to.

It’s shocking, but sadly all too common. If you feel like we described you or your situation, we are ready to help.

Our Mission


Our mission is to:

  • protect seniors and their families from harm by health care providers, government agencies and authorities,
  • ensure that the person and their rights and assets are fully respected and protected, and
  • help seniors live their lives to the fullest, according to their abilities and wishes.


Our experience, efforts and research have shown that there is a burgeoning epidemic of over-medication of seniors and of institutional abuse, compounded by laws that fail to protect the elderly from abuse of all kinds – especially abuse arising from pharmaceutical drugs and from living in an institutional setting.

Studies show that the elderly are most at risk from these abuses in Canada, the United States and Great Britain. The problems in these countries are remarkably similar despite differences in health care and legal systems: the pattern of inappropriate/over-medication of seniors is the same, as is the propensity to put seniors into institutions.

Another similarity is that the legal system is no longer capable of protecting seniors or their families. Existing laws are not being enforced by authorities, and other laws are deliberately designed to ensure that authorities retain the balance of power, rather than the elderly person or their chosen substitute (proxy) decision maker.

How We Are Funded

  • The coalition of Elder Rights Defenders is a volunteer-based organization that does not charge for the assistance it provides to seniors and families.
  • We are not funded by or affiliated in any with any government or government-sponsored program, professional association, corporation, union, religious organization or other vested interest group – we only accept donations from individuals.
  • We do not accept donations from individuals whom we are actively assisting.

Who We Are

The coalition of Elder Rights Defenders is a not-for-profit collaboration of concerned citizens, advocacy groups, and health care, legal and other professionals who seek to prevent abuse of authority against older adults in Canada, typically persons over the age of sixty years.

Many of us were drawn to this issue because of concerns for our loved ones. Others have personal experience being harmed by over-medication and/or adverse drug effects, and encountered a disinterested health care or legal system. Some people joined because they were concerned about the looming prospect of being forced to live their lives out, heavily medicated, in an institution. And some are caring professionals who, on a daily basis, see the harm being done to the elderly by health care providers and authorities and have courageously stepped in to help, often risking intimidation and sanction by their employers or unions and professional associations.

Advisory Board Members:


RUTH MARIA ADRIA, Registered Nurse, Ret’d.  is co-founder and Executive Director of Elder Advocates of Alberta Society, an organization formed in 1992 when the term elder advocate was a new concept, and much scorned. Their motto is “Rise in the presence of the aged and honour the face of the old”. It would take endless space to articulate all the advocacy issues the Elder Advocates Of Alberta have been involved in, from nursing homes to the court house, to the offices of professional associations, to the offices and chambers of the Alberta legislative assembly.

DR. JOHN BALATINECZ   Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, John obtained an undergraduate degree in forestry at the University of British Columbia, a master’s at the University of Washington, and a Ph. D. in wood science at the University of Toronto, where he was on faculty for over 33 years. His current advocacy work is focused on the defense of human and environmental health from man-made toxins in the environment and in the food-chain.

See Tribute to DR. SHIV CHOPRA who died on January 7, 2018, a world renowned Canadian scientist whose academic qualifications include an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in microbiology and veterinary medicine:  He is also the recipient of numerous national and international awards for his work on human rights, science for the public good, and community service. Shiv’s contributions on food and public health safety are featured in many internationally acclaimed documentaries. His book, CORRUPT TO THE CORE: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower (2010, KOS Publishing, Toronto) is a best seller. It provides a bristling account of how corporate corruption endangers public safety.

JANET CURRIE has a background in provincial and federal program planning, research and evaluation with expertise in improving medication safety for patients. She is on the board of PharmaWatch Canada, is co-chair of the Canadian Women’s Health Network and is on the Core Executive Committee of the Canadian Deprescribing Network, a newly constituted national organization which has as its goal the reduction of harms associated with polypharmacy among the elderly. Janet is currently completing her PhD at the University of British Columbia where she is focusing on off-label prescribing. As a co-founder and director of Focus Consultants, a research and evaluation firm in Victoria, BC, she directed over 100 research initiatives for government, including assessments of multi-million dollar national initiatives on health, civil justice and social services delivery. For the past 15 years, a major focus of her work has also been on empowering citizens to be more informed about the prescription drugs they take. She co-founded the only Canadian website addressing the safety and effectiveness of psychiatric drugs ( and has assisted many patients (with their physicians) to successfully taper psychiatric drugs such as benzodiazepines. She was appointed by Health Canada to two terms on its Expert Advisory Committee on the Vigilance of Health Products and was a founding member of Health Canada’s Patient and Consumer Pool. She has been invited three times to the Canadian Senate and once to the Canadian Parliamentary Committee on Health to speak on the safety of prescription drugs.

EILEEN DANNEMANN   Eileen is Executive Director of the National Coalition of Organized Women. NCOW has no organizational matrix, no special tax status, no agenda. NCOW is simply “individuals” spending their own time and money as individuals speaking up for progressive change and a new vision for America…and the world. A mother of three grown children, Eileen became aware while working on a campaign to re-elect U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, that non-profit status hampered the activity of activists and their organizations.  Non–profits were unable to “endorse” candidates even though the candidate supported the very issues that they represented.  She observed that non-profit organizations were in such fear of losing their tax status that they invariably put more boundaries on their activities than were even required.  As individuals, however no such restrictions pertained, hence… the National Coalition of Organized Women.

ANGELA FEMIA Angela is Executive Director of LoveCry, Inc., a child abuse prevention organization. LoveCry is a registered charity owned and operated by Street People. It raises public awareness about child abuse and youth homelessness, provides assistance to youth in need, researches issues and develops recommendations for safe and lasting solutions to keep kids safe. “Child abuse casts a shadow that lasts a lifetime.” Herbert Ward

ROYCE HAMER   Royce is Executive Director of the Canadian Anti-Corruption League. As a former police officer with the Metro Toronto Police Department and a small municipal police force, he uncovered significant corruption which led to an Ontario Police Commission investigation that resulted in organizational improvements. However, dissatisfied with lingering corruption, he left policing, obtained a BSc in Engineering and worked in various manufacturing and resource industries. His interest in community well-being drew him into political campaigns where he also observed corruption and unethical conduct. In 2012, he co-founded the Canadian Anti-Corruption League (CACL) whose mission is to expose and help reverse the growing corruption in Canadian governance.

DR. DAVID HEALY  David is an internationally respected psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist, and author. A professor of Psychiatry in Wales, David studied medicine in Dublin, and at Cambridge University. His main areas of research are clinical trials in psychopharmacology, the history of psychopharmacology, and the impact of both trials and psychotropic drugs on our culture. He has been involved as an expert witness in homicide and suicide trials involving psychotropic drugs, and in bringing problems with these drugs to the attention of American and British regulators, as well raising awareness of how pharmaceutical companies sell drugs by marketing diseases and co-opting academic opinion-leaders, ghost-writing their articles. David is a founder and CEO of Data Based Medicine Limited, which operates through its website, dedicated to making medicines safer through online direct patient reporting of drug side effects. David and his colleagues recently established RxISK eConsult, an online medication consultation service to answer the question “Could it be my meds?”

DARWIN MARQUARDT   Darwin is a retired Senior Officer with the Federal Public Service. His career began at the Royal Military College where he trained with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He is currently active as a private consultant, coach, mentor, trainer, therapist, writer, researcher and grandfather.  Fields of interest:  health, wellness, and public education re contracts in commerce.

JOHN PAPADAKIS   John is a licensed paralegal and member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. He is a former East York (Toronto) councillor and deputy mayor. John has a BA in Political Science from York University, and is a government-certified Provincial Basic Emergency Management Instructor. John also co-founded the registered charity CEPA, Community Emergency Preparedness Association.

DR. STEPHANIE SENEFF is a Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She received a B.S. degree in Biophysics, then M.S. and E.E. degrees in Electrical Engineering, and a Ph.D degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, all from MIT. Her research interests are the intersection of biology and computation: developing a model for the human auditory system, understanding human language so as to develop systems for human computer interactions, as well as applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to gene predictions. In 2012, Dr. Seneff was elected Fellow of the International Speech and Communication Association (ISCA). In recent years, Dr. Seneff has been concentrating on the relationship between nutrition and health, publishing over two dozen papers in various medical and health-related journals on topics such as modern day diseases (e.g., Alzheimers, autism, cardiovascular diseases), analysis and search of databases of drug side effects using NLP techniques, and the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health.

ROSE STEVENS   Rose is a food security activist and the Executive Director of NO GMO Manitoba. A mother of three children, she works very hard on her organic farm where her goal is to become totally self-sufficient.

ADVISORY BOARD Role and Responsibilities 

The role of Advisory Board members is to provide members of the coalition of ELDER RIGHTS Defenders (Elder Rights) with advice, suggestions and encouragement. Advisory board members do not have any fiduciary, legal or other responsibilities or obligations related to the views or operations of the coalition of Elder Rights Defenders.

Executive Director LOIS SAMPSON

Like many of our volunteers, Executive Director Lois Sampson had a devastating experience witnessing mistreatment of her mother by health care providers, the legal system and other authorities. She soon learned that many other people who had similar stories to tell about neglect of care and abuse of authority, and who were just as overwhelmed trying to navigate healthcare complaint systems, tribunals, and legal processes. Her mission is to help others get the education, assistance, and resources needed to protect their family members from similar harm. Lois co-founded Seniors at Risk in 2009, running the not-for-profit organization that assisted seniors and their families across Canada for a decade until closing the organization in February 2019. Lois makes public presentations to alert, educate and inform the public, helps to expose misconduct, and works to protect seniors and their families from aggressive and harmful behaviour by health care providers, government agencies, legal and other authorities.