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Filial Responsibility Laws in Canada: An Historical Study

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Abstract

RÉSUMÉ Le soutien apporté par la famille et la parenté a toujours été essentiel au maintien des personnes âgées dans notre société. Les lois provinciales adoptées au cours des derniers 70 ans reflètent l'importance que le gouvernement accorde au support filial pour parents indigents lorsqu'il s'engage à développer des politiques qui touchent les personnes âgées. L'article retrace l'histoire de la loi canadienne et il en examine la mise en vigueur par la voie des tribunaux et des agents provinciaux ontariens ainsi que des représentants provinciaux en Colombie-Britannique. Malgré son importance relative en tant que mécanisme de soutien pendant une brève période de temps avant 1951, cette loi était nettement inefficace et parfois même elle allait à l'encontre du but recherche. Néanmoins, elle continue de jouer un rôle important sur le plan provincial dans la formulation de politiques provinciales conçues pour les personnes âgées parce qu'elle reflàte une idéologie familiale.

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... It is perhaps not surprising that these they can, just as spouses and same-sex couples and friends do. When they cannot or when they reject their responsibility, the enforcement of these filial laws can undermine family relationships (Snell 1990;Bracci 2000). ...
... Governments also began as early as 1906 to discuss pensions for the elderly and other forms of support for the disabled because many of the elderly and disabled did not have families providing care (Guest 1980). Despite considerable evidence that support for those needing care has long been recognized as a collective and public responsibility (Davies, forthcom ing; McDaniel and Lewis 1998) even stronger evidence indicates state commitment to and enforcement of family responsibility (Snell 1996). Yet in both periods, there is little evidence to support the claim that many families abandon their responsibilities for the elderly and the younger disabled or that age alone creates dependency. ...
... When they cannot or when they reject their responsibility, the enforcement of these filial laws can undermine family relationships. (Bracci, 2000;Snell, 1990) Employees also have legal obligations; ones that may prevent rather than promote caregiving. (MacBride- King, 1999) One in four em ployees provide care, and a large proportion of care providers is em ployed. ...
... 3 II i (Bruce Elliott in Dillon, forthcoming) Similarly, filial laws first intro duced in Quebec in 1866 indicate that children did not always sup port their parents in their old age, although the limited cases of actual enforcement of these laws suggest either that most children provided support or that parents were unwilling to force the case. (Snell, 1990;Guest, 1980) Governments also began, as early as 1906, to discuss pensions for the elderly and other forms of support for the disabled, because many of the elderly and disabled did not have families pro viding care. (Guest, 1980) Although there is considerable evidence that support for those needing care has long been recognized as a collective and public re sponsibility (Davies, forthcoming;McDaniel & Lewis, 1998), there is even stronger evidence indicating state commitment to and enforce ment of family responsibility. ...
... Legislation in each Canadian province does impose a duty to provide for one's parent. These statutory provisions are known collectively as filial responsibility legislation (Snell, 1990). In BC, for example, the applicable provision is section 96 of the Family Relations Act, which reads, ''A child is liable to maintain and support a parent having regard to other responsibilities and liabilities.'' ...
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Although family scholars conceptualize caregiving in terms of networks of carers, little attention has been given to equity within these groups. Siblings comprise a prevalent caregiving network of members who feel responsible for parent care, expect to share these responsibilities with each other, and look to each other to evaluate the fairness of their sharing. In this paper, a multidisciplinary approach is used to examine sibling views of equity in relation to disputes over giving parent care and receiving parent assets. A literary perspective is offered through analysis of stepsibling tensions depicted in the novel Family Matters. Real life disputes among biological siblings that have been pursued through the courts are also examined. Issues arising from these examples are then analysed through the lens of legal doctrines of equity. Siblings evaluating fairness undertake careful comparisons of their respective relationships with parents in terms of biological links to parents and type and extent of influence in interactions with parents.
... Legislation in each Canadian province does impose a duty to provide for one's parent. These statutory provisions are known collectively as filial responsibility legislation (Snell, 1990). In BC, for example, the applicable provision is section 96 of the Family Relations Act, which reads, ''A child is liable to maintain and support a parent having regard to other responsibilities and liabilities.'' ...
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It is argued that parent care has become a normative but stressful experience for individuals and families and that its nature, scope, and consequences are not yet fully understood. Some of the complex factors that interact to determine filial behavior are explored. A hypothesis is advanced that may explain in part the persistence of the myth that adult children nowadays do not take care of their elderly parents as was the case in the good old days. Some of the ways in which social policy responds to knowledge about filial behavior are noted.
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Responses from 331 elderly mothers and 261 elderly fathers were compared on four indexes of filial responsibility expectations with significant gender differences being found in two of the four measures. The findings indicate that women in this cohort tend to expect more filial support than do their male counterparts. Reasons for these gender differences are explored, along with some policy implications.
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This paper examines gender differences within a sample of 131 adult children identified as the primary caregiver to an older frail parent. Findings indicate that sons tend to become caregivers only in the absence of an available female sibling; are more likely to rely on the support of their own spouses; provide less overall assistance to their parents, especially 'hands-on' services; and tend to have less stressful caregiving experiences independent of their involvement.
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