07/24/2012 04:50 EDT | Updated 09/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Winnipeg organization develops program to reduce elder financial abuse

WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg organization hopes credit unions can help reduce the financial abuse of seniors.

The Good Neighbours Active Living Centre is developing a program that will link seniors with staff at credit unions who can help ensure they aren't taken advantage of when it comes to their money.

Susan Sader, executive director of the centre, said their goal is to bring all 41 credit unions in Manitoba on board in 115 communities, including 57 in which a credit union is the only financial institution.

The federal government is spending $350,000 to support the program.

Sader said the funding is timely.

She said she recently dealt with a woman in her 70s who was looking for help after being bilked by a family member who was somehow able to gain control over her assets.

"It's a very difficult issue," Sader said Tuesday. "This lady had lost thousands of dollars."

Sader said credit union employees often deal with seniors and are in a trusting position to guide them toward the available help.

The program being developed by Good Neighbours includes workshops, online tools, training materials and resources for credit union employees.

Alice Wong, federal minister of state for seniors, said the program could serve as a blueprint for other regions in the country.

"Elder abuse is hard to talk about but we have to break the silence," she said. (Metro Winnipeg)