Health

The Assistance Measure: Deciding to Get Help

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Are you able to make your own decisions but limited in other ways because of certain difficulties? Would you appreciate some help?

With the assistance measure, you can request that a person you trust be officially recognized as your assistant.

Who can benefit from the assistance measure?

The assistance measure allows you to receive support in several aspects of your life. For example, your assistant can help you manage your budget, call organizations on your behalf and accompany you to appointments.

Understanding what “assistance” means

To benefit from the assistance measure, you must understand what is involved in having an assistant, be capable of choosing your assistant and expressing your wishes and preferences.

You must be experiencing some type of difficulty 

For your assistant to be officially recognized, you must be experiencing some type of difficulty. Here are some examples:

  • You are a senior and are experiencing a loss of autonomy.
  • You have a mild intellectual disability or a mental health problem.
  • You have a physical limitation (for example, eyesight, hearing or mobility).
  • Your first language is neither English nor French.

Your assistant’s role

The person assisting you must be an adult. They can be a family member, someone close to you or a caregiver.

Under certain conditions, the assistant can also be an employee of an organization you trust with whom you have developed a relationship of trust.

Important! The Public Curator can’t be your assistant.

What the assistant can do

Your assistant is your official go-between for dealing with other people or organizations, for example, companies, government departments, community groups, and professionals such as lawyers, notaries, chartered accountants, financial advisors and doctors.

The person assisting you must respect your wishes and choices and act at your request.

In particular, your assistant can

  • provide or receive information on your behalf,
  • communicate your decisions,
  • support you in making decisions,
  • give you advice, and
  • with your permission, access your personal information if needed to carry out their duties.

So, your assistant could, for example

  • communicate with your financial institution to obtain information about transactions in your account,
  • provide information to government departments,
  • call your cable company to make changes to your package, and
  • advise you concerning your expenses.

What the assistance can’t do

Unlike a person named in a power of attorney (known as a “mandatary”) your assistant can’t

  • sign documents on your behalf, such as a lease or other contract,
  • make decisions for you,  
  • sell your house or carry out maintenance on it,
  • do banking transactions on your behalf, or
  • receive payment for helping you (though you must reimburse them for any reasonable costs they have while helping you).

To learn more about powers of attorney, see our article on this topic.

Official recognition of your assistant

You must submit a request with the Public Curator for your assistant to be officially recognized by other people and organizations. Your assistant’s name will be entered in a public register, which can be accessed through the Quebec.ca website.

Submit your request to the Public Curator

It’s up to you to decide whether you need the assistance measure. You can ask for one or two people to be recognized as your assistants. There are two ways for you to submit a request:

  • You and the person assisting you can submit the request (no charge in this case).
    • A lawyer or notary who has been specifically accredited for this purpose can also help you.

Submitting a request includes several steps. You will have a meeting with the Public Curator (or with the lawyer or notary), and you must provide certain documents.

You can visit the Quebec.ca website to learn more about the various steps.

Preventing abuse

The Public Curator carries does several verifications after receiving a request for an assistance measure. Several mechanisms have been set up to prevent abuse.

Here are a few examples:

  • At least two of your family members must be informed of the request to recognize your assistant officially.
  • The Public Curator must check if the proposed assistant has a criminal record.
  • Your assistant must inform the Public Curator of their activities upon request.

Anyone can report a problem or situation of abuse to the Public Curator.

End of the assistance measure

The assistance measure ends automatically after three years. You can submit a new request after the previous one expires.

The assistance measure can also end before the three years are up if

  • you request to terminate the assistance measure,
  • your assistant is no longer assisting you, or
  • the Public Curator ends the assistance measure out of concern that it is causing you harm.