The Commissioner's Decision

Who decides whether to appoint a substitute decision maker?

After considering the application, the supporting/additional documentation and the Hearing Panel’s recommendations, the Commissioner will decide whether or not the individual needs a substitute decision maker.


How does the Commissioner decide?

The Commissioner’s decision is based on the following criteria:
  • whether the individual is a vulnerable person;
  • whether the individual is incapable of personal care and/or managing his/her property even with the involvement of his/her support network;
  • whether there are decisions to be made;
  • whether the appointment is reasonable under the circumstances.
If all of the criteria are met, then a substitute decision maker appointment is made and the Commissioner decides:
  • who the substitute decision maker will be;
  • in what area(s) the substitute decision maker will have authority to act (personal care and/or property);
  • what decision-making powers will be granted to the substitute decision maker;
  • the duration of the appointment; and
  • any terms and conditions (if applicable)
If any of the above criteria are not met, the application is dismissed.

When will I know the Commissioner’s decision?

Normally the Commissioner’s decision will be issued within two weeks following the hearing. Delays may occur where the necessary documentation (For example Child Abuse Registry Check and Criminal Record Check) has not been received from the proposed substitute decision maker(s).  

Who is notified of the decision?

All parties who received notice of the hearing will also receive notice of the Commissioner’s decision.

When does an Appointment take effect?

The substitute decision maker’s authority takes effect on the date stated in the Appointment Document.

How long does an Appointment last?

A substitute decision maker shall be appointed for as long as is appropriate given the decision(s) to be made. The maximum length is five years. If at the end of the appointment, the vulnerable person continues to require decisions to be made and is unable to make them, the appointment may be renewed (see Changes and Reviews of an Appointment  - Can an existing appointment be renewed or extended beyond the initial appointment period?).

What is the scope of the Appointment?

The scope of the appointment is outlined in the Appointment Document. It includes:
  • the area for which the appointment is made (personal care or property),
  • the name of the vulnerable person,
  • the name(s) of the substitute decision maker(s) appointed,
  • a list of the specific powers granted, and
  • if applicable, any terms and conditions to the appointment.


For more detailed information on the powers that may be granted to a substitute decision maker see pages 7, 8, and 9 of the Guide to Completing the Substitute Decision Maker Application.

Other relevant information can also be found under SDM Duties and Responsibilities.


How do I prove my authority as a substitute decision maker?

The Appointment Document issued by the Commissioner is the legal document that the substitute decision maker will use to provide verification of their role and authority to make a decision or decisions on behalf of the vulnerable person. The substitute decision maker is provided with the original signed Appointment Document and the vulnerable person receives a copy.
This Appointment Document outlines the scope of the substitute decision maker’s appointment and his or her specific authority. Below is a sample of a substitute decision maker’s Appointment Document for personal care. An Appointment Document for property would look similar but would be specific to the area of managing the vulnerable person’s property matters.

Example of an Appointment Document

Example of an Appointment Document


What happens when The Public Guardian and Trustee is appointed as the substitute decision maker?

If The Public Guardian and Trustee is appointed to act as the substitute decision maker, he or she will assign a person called a Client Administration Officer (CAO). That person will be the contact on behalf of The Public Guardian and Trustee.
Please refer to the “A Client Guide to The Public Guardian and Trustee’s Client Administration Section” for more information on what The Public Guardian and Trustee will do if appointed as the substitute decision maker and how they make decisions.
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