Healthcare

A government agency was supposed to protect her finances. Instead, she was left ruined

A mentally ill woman's finances were put in the care of the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC. She's worse off because of it

By Tori Marlan
November 10, 2021
Healthcare

A government agency was supposed to protect her finances. Instead, she was left ruined

A mentally ill woman's finances were put in the care of the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC. She's worse off because of it

By Tori Marlan
Nov 10, 2021
Tonya Gillard and her mother, Bernetta Macey. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Healthcare

A government agency was supposed to protect her finances. Instead, she was left ruined

A mentally ill woman's finances were put in the care of the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC. She's worse off because of it

By Tori Marlan
November 10, 2021
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A government agency was supposed to protect her finances. Instead, she was left ruined
Tonya Gillard and her mother, Bernetta Macey. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

On August 16, 2016, Tonya Gillard wrote a letter to the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia. It concerned her 69-year-old mother, Bernetta Macey. In it, Gillard said that Macey had a long history of mental illness, that she was “paranoid and disruptive,” and that she was “currently in a tenuous state which may require hospitalization.” 

Gillard wasn’t doing so well herself. She was legally responsible for overseeing Macey’s care and finances, and the task had turned out to be all-consuming and damaging to their relationship. 

When Macey wanted something, she could be relentless—“like a dog with a bone,” Gillard thought. Macey would bombard her with calls, demanding money and accusing Gillard of stealing from her. Without siblings or other family to lean on, Gillard sought relief however she could. She changed her phone number. She tried, without success, to hire a lawyer and a financial adviser to manage her mother’s affairs. Then she turned to the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.

“I have tried to safeguard her health and finances and needs to the best of my ability,” Gillard wrote in the letter, “but I find it is getting too overwhelming for me and is affecting my own quality of life. . . . I am hoping you can step in.”

Gillard’s plea went unanswered. A year passed. If she had known what she knows today, she would have left well enough alone. But in a move she now deeply regrets, she followed up, and the Public Guardian and Trustee took Macey on as a client.

Over the next two years, the PGT defied Macey’s wishes, failed to pay bills on time, and cashed in her retirement fund, leaving her “not just worse off but devastated,” Gillard says. 

Macey’s spending had on occasion been preposterously loose. But no spending spree could have cost her what PGT did in the end: it left her bereft of assets and deeply indebted to the very agency that her daughter had turned to as a last resort.

“I cannot believe that a government body that serves to protect the interests of a mentally ill, vulnerable elderly person has done this to a citizen,” Gillard says.

Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

***

For much of her life Macey has functioned reasonably well. She held various jobs, including as a key punch operator and a library assistant. But her mental illness—schizoaffective disorder—prevented her from being able to raise Gillard. 

From the time Gillard was nine months old, she lived with her maternal grandparents in their Newfoundland home. She didn’t spend much time with Macey until she was a teenager. By then Macey had married and moved to BC. Gillard would visit in the summers. 

It wasn’t until Macey got divorced in 2005 that Gillard, then in her late 30s, took on a prominent role in her mother’s care, through a power of attorney agreement. And for a while, the arrangement worked well. 

But after the sudden death of Macey’s sister in 2008, Macey became “less and less stable” and experienced psychotic episodes that led to hospitalizations, Gillard says In 2010, Gillard became her mother’s legal representative and trustee and took on the task of looking after her finances.  

At the time, Gillard was living in Smithers, BC. She handled what she could from afar but found herself frequently travelling to Victoria to “put out fires all over the place.” 

Macey lived in a condo in Oak Bay that she’d bought with money from her divorce settlement. She was lonely. She was hearing voices. And she was being aggressive toward people in her building. It got to the point that Gillard didn’t think she should be living alone, so she helped Macey find supportive housing at Victoria Cool Aid Society’s FairWay Woods apartment complex in Langford, where she had access to a mental-health case manager and on-site staff.  

To alleviate the financial strain of carrying two places, Macey asked Gillard to move to Victoria, and into the condo. The arrangement was mutually beneficial: Gillard would be nearby to help directly with Macey’s needs, and, by renting the condo, would help save her mother’s most valuable asset. The arrangement also worked for Gillard. She was newly single and ready for a change, and it provided her with an affordable way to live in Victoria. 

In August 2012, Gillard packed up her life in Smithers, rented out her own house, and left behind a stable job in construction marketing and a fulfilling volunteer position as president of an animal rescue society. 

It wasn’t an easy transition. Unable to find work in her field, she took a job as a security guard before winding up in the marine industry as a travel coordinator, helping fleets of construction workers get to ship refits all over the world. 

The work was stressful and the hours were long, and in the margins of her schedule Gillard squeezed in trips to Langford to take her mother grocery shopping, shuttle her to appointments, and bring what seemed like an ever-changing cast of mental health practitioners up to speed.

Macey’s finances were also getting trickier to manage. She had three sources of income and two significant assets. Each month, she received an annuity of $1,026 from her ex-husband’s pension, $826 from her own Canada Pension Plan, and $586 from Old Age Security. She also had a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, which she’d opened with $50,000 from her divorce settlement but which had dwindled by nearly half.

Left to her own devices, Macey spent impulsively and recklessly. She was a gold mine for telephone scammers and telemarketers. She once purchased a thousand dollars worth of Reader’s Digest books over the phone. She burned through a $10,000 withdrawal without being able to account for how she spent it. She gave away possessions on a whim. Gillard once arrived for a visit to find her mother’s apartment as empty as if she’d just moved out. “She went through phases where she would give away everything she owned to people in FairWay Woods,” says Gillard. “She gave them all the furniture. Clothing. I would be buying things, and, you know—gone.”

Despite Macey’s undisciplined spending, she cared greatly about her finances. Gillard says her mother’s ex-husband had been “fairly controlling” and that after her marriage ended, Macey became “hyper-focused” on her finances. Being able to assert herself by doing what she wanted with her money became deeply important to her. 

In response to Macey’s reckless spending, Gillard directed her mother’s income into a specific joint account that exclusively held her mother’s money. From this account, she paid Macey’s bills and then transferred whatever was left over to Macey. She also replaced Macey’s debit card with a prepaid Visa card.

Macey had enough spending money for toiletries, bus tickets, and other basic needs, but she regularly got into trouble. She enjoyed splurging on manicures and having her eyebrows professionally groomed. She even occasionally employed a next-door neighbour. “I gave him money to clean my apartment sometimes before the cleaners came,” Macey recalls.

Invariably, Macey would bump up against her spending limit and demand more money. Gillard refused to give it to her, but Macey was determined. She applied for a new debit card without Gillard knowing and withdrew “god knows how much,” Gillard says, from her RRSP. 

Gillard felt like she was always doing damage control. Once, when she found out that Macey had bought a new cell phone, she cancelled the contract, informing Telus that Macey had entered into it “without understanding the financial obligations” and requesting “that no other services be offered or extended toward her by mail or phone at any point in the future.”  

When it came to Gillard’s interventions, Macey ping-ponged between feeling grateful and resentful, and their relationship suffered for it. Macey would call Gillard every day, throughout the day, in her never-ending quest for more money. She would leave messages that struck Gillard as aggressive at best and abusive at worst.

“There was no peace,” Gillard says. “It wasn't just her finances, it was everything. It was her mental health, it was her physical health, it was her interactions with other people. It was just never ending. So it was like I was an extension of somebody else, like I didn't exist anymore.”  

In August 2017, Gillard again reached out to the Public Guardian and Trustee. This time, she got a response. The PGT has a mandate to protect the legal, financial, personal, and health care interests of people who require assistance with decision making, and it told Gillard it would look into whether her mother needed its services.

“I was relieved,” Gillard says. “I just wanted to not have to take care of one part of her life, which was her finances, which were very troublesome.” 

Illustration: Jimmy Thomson. Photos: James MacDonald / Capital Daily, Submitted

***

As an adult who lacks the capacity to protect and manage her own affairs, Bernetta Macey is exactly the kind of person the province had in mind when it passed legislation in 2000 that established the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia (PGT). 

Considered both a government agency and a corporation sole (a corporation with one director), the PGT is funded mostly by client fees and partly by the province. It operates independently when it comes to client-related matters but reports certain aspects of its operations to the Ministry of the Attorney General. 

The PGT is positioned at arm’s length from the government for a good reason: its purpose is to serve its clients’ interests, which can conflict with those of the government. The agency may even find itself in the position of suing the province on behalf of its clients.

When incapable adults have no friends or family willing or able to assist them in making legal and financial decisions, the PGT assumes that role. For Macey, that happened in January of 2018.

The PGT is considered a last resort—a safety net for protecting the interests of vulnerable British Columbians. Provincial law requires “committees of estate,” whether they are private individuals or the PGT, to act in the best interests of the person for whom they’re making financial decisions. A committee also must try to foster that person’s independence. According to the PGT’s own client-information handbook, when the PGT acts as committee of estate it “has a duty to protect the client’s property” and to involve the client “and/or impacted family” in decision making “where appropriate.” 

“I trusted them,” Macey says. 

When acting as committee of estate, the PGT sets up a trust account for its clients. It directs all of their income into the trust and uses the account to pay their expenses. The PGT is also responsible for securing and maintaining its clients’ assets and making investment and budgeting decisions. 

Soon after the PGT took Macey on as a client, her case manager, Leanne Philip, reached out to Gillard for a breakdown of Macey’s expenses and a full accounting of her income and assets. A flurry of communications and contact ensued, with Gillard dropping off requested documents and answering Philip’s many follow-up questions in the hope of facilitating a smooth transition of Macey’s affairs to the PGT.

But the transition couldn’t have been bumpier, according to Gillard. “It just seemed like they couldn’t get their shit together,” she says. 

According to the PGT’s records, Macey’s monthly income around the time it took over was $3,172 and her monthly expenses, without accounting for some “unknowns,” were $1,942. In addition to her three sources of income, Macey had two significant assets: her condo, which had an assessed value of $152,500, and the RRSP, which held $26,900. 

In the early days of the transition, the PGT failed to pay Macey’s bills on time and directed her spending money into the wrong account. Gillard says her mother went a full month without access to any of her money. 

At first Gillard would sort out whatever issues arose on the phone with Philip, but then, she says, “it came to a point where she just stopped calling me.” 

Around three months into the changeover, Gillard wrote to Philip, “Mom’s annuity was not deposited into her account this month so she barely had enough to cover her mortgage and rent with the CPP only. She is now in overdraft and has no money or groceries. I am not sure what is going on but the lack of communication regarding this switchover is very troublesome.”  

“My apologies about how slow [sic] everything is taking,” Philip responded two days later. “I can understand your frustration and do appreciate your assistance thus far with everything.” 

By then, the PGT had determined that Macey’s financial circumstances “were unsustainable,” according to an affidavit by Philip, and that Gillard was part of the problem, as the “rent that Ms. Gillard was paying was not sufficient to cover the mortgage payments and condo fees and appeared to be below the market rental rate for the Condominium.”

Philip asked Gillard more questions about Macey’s situation and then launched the opening salvo in what would become an irreparable rift between Gillard and the PGT: “Given your mom’s budget and associated costs with the condo, you will have to cover expenses for the condo.”

While it was true that Gillard’s rent was below market value, what Gillard was paying her mother each month—$600—had been keeping her mother afloat. The rent covered the mortgage payments ($503) and about half of the condo fees, which were $248. That was the deal—the family agreement—that Macey and Gillard had made, and Gillard says that because of it, she’d agreed to uproot her life, move to Victoria, and sell her own house in Smithers. She didn’t want to have to pay more than she’d planned for, but after speaking with Philip, she agreed to an additional $130 per month.

When the PGT failed to pay Macey’s mortgage the following month, Gillard was furious. “This is the first time that she has missed a mortgage payment ever,” she wrote to Philip.

The PGT soon determined that the amount Gillard was paying still wasn’t adequate. In addition to the condo fees and mortgage, the PGT wanted Gillard’s rent to cover Macey’s property taxes, property insurance, a special levy, and other maintenance costs. The PGT also wanted her rent to cover its own $180 monthly fee for handling payments associated with the condo.

The PGT charged Macey other asset management fees as well and took a commission on her income every month. Its fees are prescribed by the province and vary according to a client’s income and assets. A PGT manager told Capital Daily via email that the PGT doesn’t make a profit and that its fees are “designed to compensate the PGT for all of the services provided to a client, including the overall risk of administration.”  

Although the PGT is transparent about its fees, which are set out in the Public Guardian and Trustee Act’s regulations and are comparable to what private trust companies charge for the same services, they caught Macey off guard and seemed excessive to Gillard. Macey’s annual income was approximately $24,000; for the first year she was a client, about $4,000 of it went to the PGT. 

Two months after raising Gillard’s rent, Philip asked her to pay an additional $370 per month, which would bring her rent up to $1,100 and cover all of the costs related to the condo. Gillard, who was out of work at the time, later described the request as a “gut punch.” 

BC landlords are allowed to increase a tenant’s rent only once a year and, in 2018, by only 4%—which in Gillard’s case would have amounted to $24. What Philip was asking for was an increase of more than 80%. In response to Philip’s request, Gillard wrote, “That is a $500.00 increase in ONE YEAR without any kind of formal agreement.” She told Philip she wouldn’t agree to any increase until a landlord-tenant agreement was in place and she was protected by BC’s Residential Tenancy Act.

For more than a decade, Gillard says, she had seen to it that her mother’s bills were fully paid, and paid on time. And she had managed to do so even during the year the condo was unoccupied and Macey hadn’t collected any rent from it. Macey’s income hadn’t changed; what had changed was that her mother was now paying hundreds of dollars a month to the PGT and, Gillard would later learn, no one was reining in Macey when she overspent. 

Macey says she had little contact with Philip, never discussed a budget with her, and didn’t know what she was allowed to spend. Being in the dark about her money and how the PGT was managing it took a toll on Macey’s mental health, Gillard says. And it got worse when the PGT missed payments and creditors began calling her threatening legal action. 

The stress, Macey says, “made me go into a breakdown.” 

She spent the summer and fall of 2018 in and out of Royal Jubilee’s psychiatric ward.  

In a phone call with Philip from the hospital, Macey expressed her desire to add Gillard to the title of her condo. According to Philip’s notes from the conversation, she told Macey that “Tonya was not going to be on the title because it was her asset” and that Philip “wanted it to remain only her asset.” 

In a letter to Gillard a couple of weeks after that conversation, Philip acknowledged that Macey wished for Gillard to remain in the condo but said that the informal rental agreement was costing Macey $500 per month and that Macey “cannot afford to continue to subsidize your tenancy.” Philip warned: “I will only be able to continue in this fashion for 6 months. We will begin to prepare the property for sale by March 31, 2019.”

Gillard began looking for a new place. In November 2018, she lucked into a situation that allowed her to live rent free in a house owned by someone Macey’s ex-husband had known. 

Macey was upset that the PGT, which was supposed to be including her in decisions, had pushed her daughter out of the condo. She not only wanted Gillard to live in it, she was planning to leave it to Gillard as an inheritance.

Feeling cornered, Macey sought the help of a lawyer and landed on John Jordan, an associate at League and Williams. 

Jordan put the PGT on notice not to sell Macey’s condo, saying she wanted the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to reassess whether she was capable of managing her own affairs. In anticipation of that process, the PGT held off on listing the condo. 

Because the condo’s bylaws allowed owners to rent only to relatives, the PGT couldn’t replace Gillard with another, higher-paying, tenant and had to pull from its own coffers to cover Macey’s mortgage. “They were very short sighted,” says Jordan. “And as a result, the condo, before it was sold, was empty for a year without any income coming in to defray the mortgage.” 

The lost rental income amounted to more than $10,000.

Another problem, Jordan says, was that the PGT failed to stop Macey from overspending. The PGT declined to comment on the particulars of Macey’s situation or to make Macey’s case manager available for an interview. But according to its Client Account Statements, Macey received a weekly allowance of $100 for basic necessities, such as transportation, toiletries, household goods, outings, and clothing. 

To get around that allowance, Macey would go to health-care providers and stores and arrange for them to send the bill to the PGT. Macey’s case manager found herself blindsided by her client’s spending. ”[S]he is constantly running an[d] opening accounts with physio, pharmacies, massage appointments etc. that I never know about until she’s already racked up a bill,” Philip wrote in an email to a colleague.

The PGT dealt with Macey’s assets, but not with Macey as a person,  Jordan says: “You can’t isolate the two. They go hand in hand.” 

The PGT should have known that Macey lacked self-discipline when it came to spending. Gillard had told the PGT that on day one. 

Despite the PGT’s mandate and pronouncements, Jordan says, “They don't work, shall we say, collegially with the family or caregiver. They have no real knowledge of [their clients’] needs. And that is shockingly evident in this case.”

Jordan says the PGT simply paid Macey’s bills as they came in and failed to deal with the root of the problem. “There was unregulated spending without question and an absence of budgeting for Bernetta,” he says, “because the Public Guardian as a corporate entity never sat down with her or tried to find out her situation and how to curb her expenses. They just paid things, redeemed assets to pay expenses, and when the income and capital ran out, they just ran up an overdraft.”

The PGT also let unpaid bills accumulate.

In the spring of 2019, with Macey over budget each month by about $1,000 and her trust account overdrafted by more than $7,000, the PGT made the unilateral decision to liquidate her second largest investment. Her RRSP had automatically rolled over into a Registered Retirement Income Fund when she’d turned 71, and it held about $26,000. After a percentage was withheld for taxes, it yielded $19,919. Philip later said in an affidavit that the money the PGT redeemed from the RRIF paid Macey’s “outstanding PGT arrears and fees,” as well as property taxes, a levy on the condo, half of Macey’s home support arrears, and “ongoing expenses,” including her cost of care and living allowance.

The PGT took a 4 percent commission on the transaction, costing Macey $800.

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Within three months of the PGT cashing out the RRIF, according to Philip’s affidavit, Macey “again did not have sufficient funds to pay all of her expenses and she was in a position where our office was required to overdraft her account.”  

At some point, the PGT stopped paying the bills for Macey’s extended health coverage. More than a year after the PGT took control of her mother’s finances, Macey was still making as many requests on Gillard as she always had “because the PGT will not respond or does not respond to her inquiries,” Gillard said in an affidavit. 

Macey remembers relying on Gillard when her Blue Cross bill was overdue: “They would phone me and send me a letter and tell me to have it paid by a certain date, and then Tonya would pay it for me.”

Gillard says Blue Cross eventually cut Macey off, and Macey, who had developed swelling in her feet and legs and was falling often, had to pay out of pocket for physiotherapy. 

At one point, Macey sent Gillard an email, saying, “The PGT has become too much for me. I will not go on the Psyche [sic] Ward at the Royal Jubilee BUT I am suffering. They have destroyed me financially.” 

In the fall of 2019, the PGT decided it was time to sell the condo. And Macey decided she’d had enough of the PGT. “I wanted my daughter back to take over my money,” she says.

The PGT notified Jordan and Gillard in early October that it was “no longer in a position to pay for ongoing expenses associated with Ms. Macey’s condo” and “had no choice but to proceed with selling [it] in the next 7 days.” 

For the next three months, Gillard paid her mother’s mortgage. 

Although it had been overwhelming to manage her mother’s affairs the first time around, Gillard didn’t hesitate at the thought of reclaiming the job. She was worried that if the PGT remained in charge, the consequences for her mother would be devastating.

“I love my mother,” she says. “I don’t want to see her on the street. There’s so many people like her on the street.”

Gillard filed an application in the BC Supreme Court on October 9, 2019, asking to be appointed as her mother’s private committee of estate. She successfully regained control of her mother’s affairs in March 2020.

She says she had known things had been going badly for her mother under the PGT’s watch, “but I didn’t have any idea how badly because we weren’t getting the financial records.” 

When she did get them, she was gobsmacked. “By the time I learned about everything, and the magnitude of it, it was too late.” 

In Macey’s two years as a client, the PGT had overdrafted her account by $6,846 and charged her more than $8,300 in fees. 

The PGT not only had stopped paying for expenses related to the condo, it had stopped paying for services related to Macey’s care. To bring her account current for home support and the administration of her daily medications, Macey would have to pay VIHA $8,500. 

Gillard learned that the PGT had cashed out Macey’s RRIF, and would later learn that the transaction had caused collateral damage. It increased Macey’s income enough to bump her into a higher tax bracket and to inflate, by more than a $1,000 a month, the amount that VIHA charged Macey for long-term care after she moved into a care home in the fall of 2020. The lump-sum infusion of cash that had been intended to trickle out over time also rendered Macey ineligible for Medical Services Plan supplementary benefits. 

On the heels of her committee appointment, Gillard received a letter from a PGT estate liaison officer notifying her of another hefty debt—this one to the PGT. “[T]he current amount of the liability owed by your mother to our office is $27,243.76,” the liaison officer wrote. Of that amount, $20,396 was for the PGT’s “unposted fees and commissions.” 

The Public Guardian and Trustee Act’s regulations allow the PGT to refund or waive its fees due to hardship or unfairness, and at the end of its administration, the PGT automatically conducts a financial review of each case. “During this review, there is a determination, based on individual client circumstances, on whether a further fee review is warranted to excuse any of the PGT’s fees as a result of hardship or unfairness,” a PGT manager told Capital Daily in an email. In Macey’s case, no refund has been made, despite her having to default on her mortgage, condo fees, Blue Cross payments, and home support services. 

“By the time the smoke cleared,” Gillard says, “it was like there's no way we can afford to keep the condo.” Gillard sold Macey’s condo in June 2020 for $235,000. “It just killed me to have to do that,” she says. 

The fight to wrest control of Macey’s finances from the PGT and the process of shepherding through the sale of the condo cost Macey $13,162 in legal fees. By the time she paid her lawyer and creditors, more than half of the proceeds from the condo were gone.

James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Submitted

***

The PGT may have a noble mission, Jordan says, but in Macey’s case its mission failed. Rather than protecting her financial situation, the PGT jeopardized it, mismanaging Macey’s income and assets to such an extent that they could no longer be expected to provide for her for the duration of her life. Jordan acknowledges that circumstances might have required the PGT to dip into Macey’s capital from time to time. “But I see no evidence that they stood back and said, ‘Well, this is this spiraling out of control, we’ve got to stop it.’” Macey’s estate wasn’t protected by the PGT, he says; it was allowed to waste away.  

Macey puts it more bluntly: “They abused me and my money and my relationship with my daughter.” 

In fiscal year 2019-2020, the PGT managed $642 million in assets for 8,128 people. It’s unlikely that Macey was the only unhappy client. A lawyer for a Vancouver-based private trust company says the PGT is inconsistent in the way that it exercises its role as committee of estate. “Sometimes they’re quite good; sometimes they’re abysmal,” she says. “It’s not an unusual story, where a family brings in the PGT and then hates the PGT, hates their choices, and says, ‘For the love of god, get rid of them!’ The PGT can be terrible to deal with and charge a fortune.” 

If the PGT’s clients have complaints, they can ask for an internal review. They can also turn to the Office of the Ombudsperson, which investigates complaints of unfairness and wrongdoing in the provincial government and in public-sector organizations. The office can make recommendations after concluding its investigations, but they’re not binding. In the last fiscal year, the Ombudsperson received 63 complaints about the PGT, though it’s unclear if the complaints all pertained to its work with incapable adults (the PGT also handles the legal and financial interests of children and youth and administers estates of people who are missing or deceased).  Gillard says when she called the Ombudsperson, she was directed to first go through the PGT’s internal review.

Clients who believe that the PGT has mismanaged their estate or breached their fiduciary duties can also look for a remedy in court. But going to court requires both money and the mental capability to set that process in motion. At the time of the committeeship handover, the PGT gave Gillard a release form so she could waive her right to have her mother’s accounts reviewed in the BC Supreme Court. She refused to sign it. 

Submitted

***

Macey now lives in a long-term care home in downtown Victoria. The edema in her legs requires her to use a wheelchair. She’s unable to leave the care home of her own volition, a circumstance that has inadvertently curbed her spending. There are no more opportunities for getting her hands on a debit card behind Gillard’s back. There are no more manicures. Gillard finds ways to make her feel pampered nonetheless. She cooks for Macey and buys her special meals.  

But Gillard can’t afford to buy her everything she needs. There are certain things—expensive things—that Macey would benefit from that she will have to do without: an electric wheelchair, crowns for two teeth, specialized shoes for the edema. 

“All these things that are coming up, she can’t get them,” Gillard says, “because she doesn't have the money to look after herself in her old age.”

Macey’s two-year entanglement with the PGT has cost her dearly, Gillard says. By her own calculation, the damage to Macey’s estate from the PGT comes to about $334,000—a figure that includes the value of Macey’s lost assets and rental income, her legal fees, and the residual effects of liquidating the RRIF.  

With Gillard’s committee of estate appointment, she and Macey had hoped to wash their hands of the PGT. But the PGT, it seems, isn’t yet done with them. During the court process, the PGT expressed concern about Gillard becoming committee of estate, pointing out that the strain of handling her mother’s affairs was what had prompted her to turn to the PGT in the first place. 

In light of the opposition, Master Sandra Harper ordered Gillard to keep the PGT in the loop, requiring her to submit a financial plan for her mother’s estate to the PGT for its approval. “After all they had done to lay waste to her assets, it was an egregious slap in the face,” Gillard wrote, reflecting on her experience.

Master Harper also ordered Macey to pay the PGT’s legal fees.

Macey now owes the PGT $31,000. Jordan has put together a settlement offer in the hope that the PGT will accept a fraction of what Macey owes them. If she is required to pay the full amount, he wrote to the PGT, “her capital will be reduced so that she will have no capital left in short order to meet her health care costs.” 

If the PGT doesn’t accept the settlement—a one-time payment of $5,000—Macey, who’s now 74, would be left with $70,000 for the remainder of her life. 

“All those years that I had been looking after her, I did everything in my power to try to let her keep as much money as possible, as much assets as possible without her just plowing through everything,” Gillard says, “and then, you know, despite my best efforts, the PGT did it for her.”

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A government agency was supposed to protect her finances. Instead, she was left ruined