FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch in observance of National Seniors Day and the International Day of Older Persons:

As the minister responsible for seniors and healthy aging, I am pleased to recognize the International Day of Older Persons.

This day was created so that awareness could be raised to promote the independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity of seniors. It is also a way to ensure seniors’ voices are heard and their rights are respected under the United Nations’ Principles for Older Persons.

Seniors want to feel respected, be able to lead healthy, active lives, and be as independent as possible for as long as they can. Too often seniors face discrimination based on their age. As a society, we need to combat ageism and recognize the potential of our seniors. Intergenerational activities are among the best ways to help reduce ageism.

New Brunswick has one of the highest proportions in Canada of residents over the age of 65.  Seniors have made – and continue to make – deep contributions to this province. Many of them are still in the workforce, playing key roles in our economy, while others are making huge contributions to numerous aspects of community life by providing valuable hours of volunteer service.

We want to ensure we have communities that afford seniors opportunities. We can do this by encouraging all New Brunswick communities to work towards becoming age-friendly. An age-friendly community makes seniors feel safe; has appropriate transportation; and provides outdoor spaces where seniors can remain physically active, stay socially engaged, and thrive.

Most importantly, we all must ensure that seniors do not become victims of abuse. Sadly, too many still face several forms of abuse, which includes physical and mental abuse, neglect, and financial fraud. Any form of abuse should be reported to appropriate authorities.

I encourage every New Brunswicker to reflect today on our seniors and remember the important roles they have played in our province – and will continue to play.