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BC Federation of Retired Union


October, 2020


BC FORUM Statement on the United Nations’
International Day of Older Persons October 1st 2020


Thursday, October 1, 2020 is the 30th anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons. This year has been unlike any other year due to COVID-19. As a result the United Nations International Day of Older Persons has issued a statement saying “Considering the higher risks confronted by older persons during the outbreak of pandemics such as COVID-19, policy and programmatic interventions must be targeted towards raising awareness of their special needs. Recognizing older persons contributions to their own health and the multiple rates they play in the preparedness and response phases of current and future pandemics is also important.”

The BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM) is marking the United Nations International Day of Older Persons by highlighting four issues which are crucial to protecting the health of seniors. We need to look at these issues not only on October 1 but when we cast our ballots in the BC Provincial Election. Election Day is October 24.


Issue 1 - We need a National Pharmacare programme

Across Canada there is a patchwork of different provincial and territorial Pharmacare programs Most provide some level of assistance to subsidize the cost of medications for low income people, including seniors. However, despite these programs many seniors cannot afford their prescription medication. The older a Canadian household is, the more it pays in out-of-pocket drug expenses, according to a report from the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. On average, Canadians over 65 pay $646 out of pocket for drugs each year.

Almost 1 in 4 households reported that over the previous 12 months, they or someone in their household did not take their medicines as prescribed because of the cost.

These problems can be resolved with a National Pharmacare Plan. Retirees aren’t benefitting from the current system, but pharmaceutical and private insurance companies are.

Pharmaceutical companies can charge higher prices for drugs because they sell to so many buyers.

It's time for Canada to complete unfinished business of our Medicare system with a universal prescription drug plan that will save money through bulk purchasing power.

In New Zealand, where a public authority negotiates on behalf of the entire country, a year's supply of the cholesterol-busting drug Lipitor costs just $15 a year, compared to $811 in Canada.

On the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, BC FORUM is asking you to continue the fight for a National Pharmacare Plan by sending a letter to your Member of Parliament:


Issue 2 - We need to protect seniors in long term care

Many seniors in long term care died as a result of COVID-19. In late June 2020 there were shocking reports that over 80% of the COVID-19 deaths In Canada were the deaths of seniors in long term care.

These deaths were due to a number of factors including abysmal staffing levels, inadequate infection control procedures, underfunding, poor working conditions and in many cases the profit motive.

It didn't have to be that way. Seniors in long term care deserve better. On the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, BC FORUM is asking you to protect vulnerable seniors in long term care by sending a letter to the Prime Minister: a letter/


Issue 3 - We need a National Dental Care program

Dental health is one of the most important aspects of health, yet remains outside of Canadian health coverage. Many seniors simply cannot afford to have dental work done. Instead they live with dental pain.

Studies have linked poor dental health to serious health complications, Including cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections, diabetic complications, and renal disease complications.

It is estimated that 32 per cent of Canadians have no dental insurance at all, and six million Canadians avoid visiting the dentist every year due to cost.

The omission of dental health coverage from our universal health-care system is both a pressing public health concern and social justice issue.

Seniors should not have to live with dental pain because they cannot afford to see a dentist. On the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, BC FORUM Is asking you to protect the health of seniors by signing this petition:


Issue 4 - We need Federal Pension Insurance

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in many companies filing for bankruptcy. And, in Canada we have no legislation to protect people’s pensions in the event of bankruptcy. This puts the economic security of many retirees in jeopardy.

Economic security is a social determinant of health. BC FORUM does not want to see seniors becoming poorer and sicker because they lose their pensions.

We need Federal legislation which protects people’s pensions if their employers go bankrupt.

There is similar legislation around the world - even in the United States.

Retirees should not have to live in fear that they will lose their pensions. On the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, BC FORUM is asking you to protect pensions by signing this letter to your MP:


Thank you for taking these steps to help retirees and seniors.

Happy United Nations International Day of Older Persons. Celebrate it today and remember these issues when you cast your vote.


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