“...in a world of entitlements, we need to ask ourselves what we, as Ontario citizens, should expect to receive when we become older [and] what our older citizens should be receiving now.”
(Chatham-Kent Community Care Access Centre)
In 1999, the International Year of the Older Person, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the Commission) began a study of the human rights landscape facing older Ontarians. The first step involved researching the main issues. The result was a Discussion Paper Discrimination and Age: Human Rights Issues Facing Older Persons in Ontario, released in July 2000. The Discussion Paper identified a number of issues that appeared to be of public interest. These were set out in further documents including a paper entitled The Changing Face of Ontario: Discrimination and our Aging Population which was issued in September 2000 and which began a process of extensive, province-wide consultation.
Information about the consultation process was sent to more than 400 stakeholders, posted on the Commission’s web site and advertised in newspapers. We received written comments from over 100 consultees. A Commission panel, chaired by Chief Commissioner Keith Norton, held public consultation sessions in London, Toronto, Ottawa and Sudbury. This Report is the culmination of our research and consultation. We are grateful to everyone who took the time to attend the public consultation sessions, to phone or to write to us as we have benefited greatly from their detailed and considered submissions.
The tremendous response we have received demonstrates the importance of this issue to all Ontarians. What has been made clear during this process is that our current approach to aging is not sustainable, especially given that by the year 2021, Ontario will be home to three million seniors, twice as many as in 1998. As a society, we can no longer afford to treat age discrimination as anything but a serious affront to the dignity and worth of the persons who experience it. A new approach is needed; one that promotes the dignity and worth of older Ontarians and allows for independence, security, full participation and fairness. We should ensure that we are treating today’s older adults in the way in which each of us would like to be treated when we become older. Now is the time for action: a change in attitudes, policies and practices must take place or Ontarians of all ages will feel the impact. The Commission hopes that this document articulates a vision for action and will be a starting point for change.