Age is nothing but a number

Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thriving seniors

Joint ILC-Canada /uOttawa-led movement advocates for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons

The International Longevity Centre – Canada (ILC-Canada) and the University of Ottawa LIFE Research Institute (uOttawa LRI) attended the Open-ended Working Group on Aging (OEWG) meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York City (July 23 – 26, 2018).

The unprecedented opportunity to live longer and more active lives is a cause for celebration – and yet it remains a global challenge. Currently, many societies often devalue older people. ‘Old’ age is too often equated with decline, withdrawal and loss of social value. Ageism – prejudice based on age – is a persistent, but often socially accepted form of discrimination. The capacities of older people are questioned, while the people themselves are not seen as a resource for social investment.

To address this issue, ILC Canada and the uOttawa LRI are calling on the Canadian Government to lead, support and ratify a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.

ILC Canada and the uOttawa LRI hosted a side event at the United Nations sponsored by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), FADOQ, and Home Instead, Inc. The event was a North-South discussion with a focus on issues of the Ninth OEWG Session by considering the availability, quality, and sustainability of long-term care and palliative care systems, and older persons’ rights to autonomy and independence. These discussions led to a strong consensus for a need for a UN Convention globally.

 “Support for such a Convention represents an opportunity to show leadership internationally, but also domestically - It is time for our country to lead by example in improving the lives of older people in Canada and all over the world,” said Dr. Laurent Marcoux, ILC-Canada/ uOttawa LRI delegation member and CMA President.

Canada’s recent appointment of a Minster of Seniors is a welcome step and we call upon the Honourable Filomena Tassi to lead and support the international movement to protect the rights of older persons.

Canada has a long history of leading such rights-based conventions. In this spirit, ILC – Canada / uOttawa LRI have prepared a letter to the Minister of Global Affairs, signed by a consortium of experts strongly supporting Canada’s government to take immediate action with regards to the Convention.

Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, states have adopted international conventions to protect the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities. The next frontier is the human rights of older people. 


For additional information:

Isabelle Mailloux Pulkinghorn
University of Ottawa


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