Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett has been speaking out about the increasing discrimination ageing Canadians are facing.
Minister Bennett even goes so far as to say that COVID-19 is raising concerns about “the pandemic of ageism.”
A Personal Story
In an Update to Constituents, she wrote:
“I remember an unpleasant conversation from my apartment in Ottawa with a resident in an ER where my Dad had been taken with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Three times she told me that he was 93. Three times I told her that I knew how old my father was. I explained that as pneumonia and heart failure are reversible conditions that if he needed help breathing in the ICU until the antibiotics and diuretics began to work, I expected that to happen. My Dad got better without needing the ICU, but I remember thinking that as an MD I had been able to firmly take a stand. I worried that other families wouldn’t have been able to question the clear ageism in the choices being put in front of them.”
Better an Elder than Elderly
MP Bennett currently serves as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and her experience with First Nations communities is also leading her to combat ageism.
She reflects: “As part of my journey with First Nations, Metis and Inuit, I am now convinced I would rather grow up to be an Elder than elderly. During Covid-19, Indigenous communities have made it clear to us that protecting their elders, knowledge-keepers and language speakers was a priority. They strictly executed their pandemic preparedness plans. They have shown truly impressive results. When the beloved Elder on Namgis Nation passed away in North BC of Covid-19, all First Nations mourned their loss. They redoubled their efforts coast-to-coast-to-coast to protect their communities and their elders. When youths being youths were caught not abiding physical-distancing rules, they were reminded of the importance of protecting their elders. It has worked.”
Who Will Defend You?
MP Bennett became understandably frustrated with the ER resident who seemed to be simply giving up on her father. Thankfully, she was able to take a stand and be an advocate in his defense. Not every Canadian has a parliamentarian-physician who will fight for them. That’s why maintaining the limited safeguards that exist in Canada’s euthanasia regime is critical to protecting the vulnerable.
Indigenous Peoples Should Not Be Compelled
First Nations communities have also released a joint letter, “Indigenous Peoples Should Not Be Compelled to Provide or Facilitate Medical Assistance in Dying” in which the signatories say: “Bill C-7 goes against many of our cultural values, belief systems, and sacred teachings. The view that MAiD is a dignified end for the terminally ill or those living with disabilities should not be forced on our peoples.”
A Way Forward
If MP Bennett really hopes to grow up to become an Elder rather than elderly, then she should take note of First Nations communities’ concerns with her own Government’s proposed expansion of euthanasia with Bill C-7.
She says, “Dismissing older persons as ‘elderly’ with diminished rights has to stop.”
A vote against Bill C-7 is an essential first step in respecting our elders by fighting for their lives.