Question Period: United Nations Principles for Older Persons

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Alexandra Bridge across the Ottawa River, Ottawa

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Honourable senators, this question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Senator Gold, wellness and the quality of life for all Canadians are essential, and I recently spoke to a UN event regarding these concerns. In this chamber, I have spoken about issues regarding long-term care homes in the early waves of the pandemic. We have alarmingly seen Manitoba, alas, lead the COVID statistics per capita for several weeks in this third wave when infections affected all ages. More than 40 ICU patients were transferred out of province.

Manitobans are grateful for the assistance from the federal government and our neighbouring provinces. COVID has certainly provided a beacon for longer-term societal issues which must be dealt with. One long-term quality-of-life and safety issue can be addressed by the status of the UN convention for the human rights of older persons. This UN convention is moving forward and Canada has given support in principle.

Senator Gold, will Canada actively support this convention, and how will that support be implemented?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for your question. Every senior in Canada deserves to live safely, in dignity and comfort. Thanks to your advance notice, I was able to make inquiries. It is a priority for this government to promote and protect human rights, both nationally and internationally. In that respect, the government is engaged with various international mechanisms focused on strengthening the human rights of older persons, including the United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Ageing.

I understand that there is no draft convention as yet, although there is much advocacy for producing such a convention and much work that the UN has done on the rights of older persons. The government is committed to working with various international partners and is certainly open to discussing the idea of a UN convention on the rights of older persons.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, Senator Gold. I really appreciate that. What is the government doing about seniors abuse — physical, family and, particularly, online abuse — and the many phishing calls regarding their computers, credit cards, CRA threats and other intrusive questions severely undermining the confidence of those living alone, too often emptying their bank accounts, threatening lawsuits and stealing their private, sensitive information?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. As the son of a 92-year-old mother who lives alone and receives far too many such calls and phishing expeditions, I can certainly appreciate the seriousness of this issue.

With regard to what the government at the federal level may be doing, I do not have the answer, senator. I’ll make inquiries and report back.

Senator Bovey: Thank you.

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