Advocacy in action

Working for a more equitable world.
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Older adults are the fastest-growing age group in Canada. Together with our members and partners, RTOERO advocates for critical public policy improvements that will address the urgent needs of Canadians aged 65 and older and create a more secure and compassionate future for everyone.

RTOERO focuses on three key issues: creating a national seniors’ strategy, advocating for geriatric health care and promoting environmental stewardship. Our Vibrant Voices program works with government and industry to address these areas. And you can add your voice to help us keep the momentum going: Encourage immediate and extended family, friends and neighbours to join in. If you don’t speak, how can you be heard?

Seniors’ strategy
Current mental and physical health-care infrastructure and frameworks for ensuring seniors’ financial security are not adequate; they need re-imagining and rebuilding from scratch. “We should be very concerned that the system is broken,” says Margaret Gillis, president of the International Longevity Centre Canada. “We are not able to accommodate needs now, or needs that are going to happen in the future as we age. We need to fix the entire system. It’s economically sound to do so.”

RTOERO is advocating for:

  • income security
  • universal public pharmacare
  • eliminating social isolation barriers
  • creating supports for people who want to age at home

Geriatric health care
By 2024, Canadians aged 65 and older will account for 20 per cent of the population, and Canada’s health-care system won’t be able to meet the demand without significant changes. “COVID-19 has shown us the cost of not investing…nothing and no one in health care should be marginalized,” says Dr. Paula Rochon,vice-president of research at Women’s College Hospital and the RTOERO Chairin Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto. “We need to focus on every aspect and work together for solutions.No stopgap measures.”

RTOERO is advocating for:

  • geriatric training to ensure we have enough geriatricians and healthcare professionals trained to work with older adults
  • healthy aging initiatives, including promoting active lifestyles, social inclusion, mental health supports, age-friendly communities and strategies for coping with change
  • more long-term care facilities
  • resources for recognizing and preventing elder abuse, and helping abuse victims

Environmental stewardship
All efforts — personal, community or legislative — that respect the environment make a difference. “The environment can’t be…an afterthought.With no habitable earth, what other issue could possibly matter? Everything else is secondary,” says Kelly Bannister,an ethnobiologist and bioculturalethicist, and co-director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance in the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria.

Neil Ever Osborne, a conservation photographer and the climate change and sustainability editor at the Weather Network, suggests you start with an individual or family plan. Join or organize community or office efforts. Educate and be educated. “Science is making a major come back,” says Osborne. “Science warns us of what is ahead.”

RTOERO is advocating for:

  • a ban on single-use plastics
  • common recycling standards
  • eco-friendly transportation
  • initiatives that safeguard our water supply and drinking water quality

Whatever your age, your voice has power. Use it to encourage others to protect two extraordinary Canadian treasures: its older population and its magnificent natural resources. “You have to get involved to have any influence,” says Kathy Wachs, a community activist in Chemainus, B.C., who mobilizes community participation for environmental projects.

To learn more about these key issues and RTOERO’s advocacy in action, visit rtoero.ca/vibrant-voices. You will also find advice on how you can talk and act — as a voter and as a consumer —to build a better, more equitable world for everyone.

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