Multi-group gathering in Quebec City to focus on the living conditions of seniors
An umbrella group representing the interests of senior citizens across Quebec says it will be holding a general assembly in Quebec City in early May to discuss major issues affecting the province’s retirees – with a special focus on their living conditions.
“We would like to see representatives of civil society and Quebec experts position themselves with regard to the 38 solutions we have developed, in order to perfect them, prioritize them and put forward the best ways to age better in Quebec,” said Rose-Mary Thonney, president of the Quebec Association of Retirees in the Public and Parapublic Sectors (AQRP), one of the groups that plans to participate in the Coalition for the Dignity of Seniors’ estates general on May 3.
“Together, we want to develop a joint declaration, which will help to outline what we see as living conditions that are truly adapted to the needs and desires of seniors, because living is also about getting older,” added Lise Lapointe, president of the Association des retraités et retraitées de l’éducation et autres services publics du Québec (AREQ). The 38 solutions proposed by the coalition are grouped under four main themes: health, finance, seniors’ rights and citizen participation.
The coalition wants to put an end to the hospital-centered vision of Quebec’s health system, which it says “goes against the will of the majority who want to stay at home as long as possible. Inevitably, budgets for home care and services will have to be adjusted to this desire. Greater investments will also need to be made in prevention and in promoting healthy lifestyles.”
“The way care is provided must be rethought in order to promote greater autonomy for seniors in order to allow them to find, relearn, recover or maintain the skills and functions necessary to carry out their daily activities,” said Andrée Lamontagne, president of the Regroupement interprofessionnel des intervenantes retraitées des services de santé (RIIRS).
The coalition maintains that financial and tax aspects are fundamental to ensuring well-being and ageing with dignity. The enhancement of the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Old Age Security Pension, the tax credit for medical expenses and the reduction of the eligibility threshold from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent for those aged 65 and over are among the 38 solutions proposed by the coalition.
Pierre Lynch, president of the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraités et préretraités (AQDR), cited statistics on the incomes of Quebec seniors to reinforce the coalition’s case. In April 2021, he noted, the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) established that the average sustainable individual income in Quebec is $28,000. Yet according to statistics currently available, he added, nearly 33 per cent of Quebec seniors have incomes of less than $20,000, which the coalition regards as unacceptable.
The coalition believes the rights of seniors need to be better protected, since the pandemic has been a major awakening, although unacceptable situations existed long before it. With more than a quarter of Quebec’s population expected to be over the age of 65 within the next 15 years, the coalition believes that it is imperative to create a position of seniors’ protector, independent of the health network and the government.
“We would like to see representatives of civil society and Quebec experts position themselves with regard to the 38 solutions we have developed”
“It’s no longer the time to think, it’s the time to act,” said Laurent Aubin, president of the Association québécoise des directeurs et directeurs d’établissement d’enseignement retraités (AQDER). “So, it is very quickly that our society must adapt to this new demographic reality. We must ensure that seniors age with dignity and that their rights are respected in all our institutions.”
The coalition says that even though society’s treatment of seniors has come under the spotlight during the pandemic, seniors don’t need to be treated like children and must be encouraged to come out of their isolation. The group says seniors can and should be part of public policy thinking at all levels.
While taking into account immigrant seniors and the LGBTQ+ community, the Coalition for the Dignity of Seniors proposes that projects be quickly put in place to allow seniors to express themselves and integrate into their community.
“Citizen participation is an essential part of the lives of seniors who, for the vast majority, are autonomous, socially active, economically independent and actively contribute to society,” said Mireille Beaulac, president of the Alliance des associations des retraités (AAR).