Unifor retirees continue to fight for improved standards of living on International Day of Older Persons

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A group of people raising their fists in the air in solidarity.

On October 1, Unifor celebrates the International Day of Older Persons.

The General Assembly of the United Nations first observed this day on Dec. 14, 1990, to draw attention to the important contribution of seniors and to changing demographics of the world, including the greying of the population, or the "age of aging." 

Unifor marks this day as a way of providing education on public issues and concerns, to mobilize for change and action and to celebrate achievements.

This year’s theme is Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.

It was 75 years ago when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It is the first document articulating the fundamental human rights that are meant to be universally protected and a promise to ensure that all persons, including all older persons, fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010, life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years. Globally, there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over in 2019.

In 2020, the number of people aged 60 years outnumbered children younger than 5 years.

Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050 and 80% of them will be living in low- and middle-income countries.

A longer life brings with it opportunities, not only for older people and their families, but also for society. Additional years provide the chance to pursue new activities such as further education, a new career or pursuing a long-neglected passions. Older people also contribute in many ways to their families and communities.

Older persons are a valuable aspect of our society, and their contributions are needed to strengthen communities and to have a functioning society.

It is important to recognize that development will only be achieved if it is inclusive of all ages. Governments at all levels must ensure that older persons receive the care, the opportunities and support to experience healthy aging.

Unifor retirees continue to fight for improved standards of living, whether it be through employer provided pensions, government pensions, fighting for better and more inclusive healthcare, dental care, national pharma care and housing programs.

Retirement security for all has long been a core demand of our union and the labour movement. It is a demand that continues to be as important as ever today.

To achieve equality, attention to the needs and challenges faced by many older people is required. Whether they be socioeconomic, health, housing, and other related impacts on the lives of older persons. Discrimination based on age and gender creates new inequalities, including ageism and sexism.

Empowering older persons by active participation in social, economic, and political live is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and to reduce inequalities.

Governments and society must look at ways for protect all human rights and to reduce and eliminate these inequalities.

Seniors and retired workers will hold virtual events across the country in recognition of International Day of Older Persons. If you are not hosting an event, look for one in a community near you and help recognize the contributions of older persons.