In December of 2008, Wasiuk had knee surgery and was in and out of hospitals. It was at one of these hospitals that she met Pauline Reid, a personal support worker who lived in a low-rent apartment in North York. When Wasiuk expressed her concerns about living in a nursing home, Reid assured her that there were other options. Instead, Reid offered to welcome Wasiuk into her home and take care of her. Wasiuk agreed, leaving behind her luxurious condo in Markham.
Reid had a real estate agent put Wasiuk’s Brampton home on the market at a listing price of $549,900. It sold for just $410,000.
Not long after, Reid declared that she was unhappy in her home and that she wanted to move. It was left to Wasiuk to purchase the new home. Together, Wasiuk and Reid settled on a big, red brick home in Ajax. Real estate documents show that Wasiuk paid $477,000 for the home. She paid for most of it with a personal cheque. A “mortgage company” loaned the rest to her at an interest rate of 9.79 per cent. The mortgage company, it was later found, had one director – Sukhjinder Gandhi – the same man who acted as the realtor in the sale Wasiuk’s home.
Wasiuk doesn’t remember all of the details of those days clearly, says the Toronto Star reporter. After a little research was conducted and details were pieced together, here’s what was found:
- The new house was registered to Reid, not Wasiuk
- Wasiuk was given a “life interest,” meaning that she was allowed to live there until she died
- The documents do state that the house could not be sold without Wasiuk’s say-so
- Reid was to look after Wasiuk for the rest of her life
- The $430,000 paid for the new home was referred to as an “interest-free loan” – Reid would put $800 worth of personal care towards the debt each month
- Once Wasiuk passed, the house would belong to Reid
According to the article, Wasiuk believed that she had sole ownership of the house. Not only had she been tricked into believing that the home was hers, but her caregiver had also mistreated her. Wasiuk was given minimal care, was often yelled at and was also quite often left alone. It wasn’t until a neighbour intervened that anyone knew what was going on. After that, it was still months before she received help. In the meantime, Wasiuk lost her home and over $50,000 in cash. The point isn’t so much what happened; it’s that it shouldn’t have happened at all.
Wasiuk is currently in the process of trying to get her house and life savings back. Read more about Wasiuk’s troubling story in the Toronto Star here.
I hate hearing stories like this one. We all do; but they happen and sometimes we need to read them in order to remind ourselves that they happen. And then we need to do something so they stop happening. This could just as well have been your grandmother.
How can we protect senior citizens, while treating them as adults and allowing them to make decisions on their own?