ILC Canada's Written Statement for the UN OEWG 11th Session on Ageing
The following message was disseminated by ILC Canada on April 1, 2021: (shared in its entirety)
We are writing to express our abhorrence at the egregious mistreatment of older people in Canada and around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. This global crisis has clearly demonstrated the very real lethal impact of ageism on the fundamental human rights of older people as evidenced by the appalling mistreatment of older persons in long-term care, systematic and severe restrictions to health care, and loathing ageistic social media statements, contributing to the culling of older persons everywhere.
Canada and the rest of the world must not shrug off the responsibility to protect the human rights of older persons by abdicating it to ageistic “Member States”, who did not even bother to participate in the 11th. OEWG in 2021.
The idea that Member States can better implement existing international human rights obligations to protect and strengthen the rights of older people is clearly delusional. If this line of reasoning were correct, there would have been no need for any special UN Conventions - for Women, for Children, for Indigenous Persons or for Persons with Disabilities, to name a few. We must put aside platitudinous arguments that “goodwill” or “soft law” like the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging will protect the rights of older people when the pandemic has clearly exposed that it is not the case. The time to act is now. The time to change is now. We must put a stop to this “pandemic of ageism” now.
The WHO global report on ageism published in March 2021 states that 50% of the world’s population is ageist against older people. The most comprehensive global review of the health consequences of ageism is a meta-analysis published in 2020, with over 7 million participants demonstrating poor health outcomes in 95.5% of studies, with a strong association between mental health conditions and ageism. The first key study of the economic impact of ageism published in 2020 vi considered the impact of discrimination aimed at older persons, negative age stereotypes, and negative self-perceptions of aging on the health in persons aged 60 years or older as predictors of ageism in the United States. It estimated that over a 1 year, the financial impact of ageism on health care was $63 billion. Furthermore, it predicted that a reduction in ageism is likely to result in health benefits for older persons but also be cost-effective, especially for less-developed countries, where a large increase in the numbers of older persons is anticipated in the future.
All Member States must take definitive action in upholding fundamental human rights for decisive steps toward leading and supporting a United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of all Older Persons. As per the adage, “what you permit, you promote”. Enough is enough! Any violators that permit human rights violations needs to be held accountable.
President, International Longevity Centre, Canada
Kiran Rabheru MD, CCFP, FRCP, DABPN
Geriatric Psychiatrist, TOH
Professor of Psychiatry, U of Ottawa
Chair, Steering Group, GAROP
Chair of the Board, ILC-Canada