The seal of recognition
Quebec has the most rapidly aging population in the western hemisphere. In 2031, more than 44 percent of Quebecers will be aged 50 or older. This demographic imbalance brings with it numerous consequences, particularly the challenge of experienced workers.
The Réseau FADOQ (Federation for Aging in Dignity and Overall Quality) can testify to several issues regarding the workforce and the definition of active life. As life expectancies increase, many workers remain in the job market either because they want to remain active or because they do not have the means to stop working.
However, we have noticed that the image of experienced workers needs a makeover, as many of them suffer abuse or ageism.
The Réseau FADOQ has therefore created a number of tools to raise the awareness of stakeholders in all environments of what experienced workers can contribute. In addition, we are contributing to developing a province-wide guide to publicize "best practices" for keeping experienced workers in the workforce.
Lastly, we are establishing a recognition program for age-friendly employers. The program will involve awarding a seal of recognition to employers who meet a number of criteria, including flexible schedules, chances for self-improvement, and passing on knowledge.
Along with this initiative, we are seeking to develop a search engine for jobs available for workers aged 50 and older. This search engine will include jobs from across the province to ensure that it serves as many citizens as possible. We hope that the possibility of being included in the search engine will also serve as an incentive for employers to open up their pool of potential candidates to include experienced workers.
We hope to raise the awareness of businesses and organizations regarding the major contribution that experienced workers bring to the job market.
Toward a social contract in favor of a satisfactory quality of life for Quebec’s seniors
The “Age-Friendly Employers Program” is part of a much broader awareness project. The Réseau FADOQ has implemented a social contract to favor an adequate quality of life for all seniors in Quebec so as to encourage governments, companies, and associations to change their structures and adapt them to the realities of an aging society. We have therefore established four fundamental pillars that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), define an adequate quality of life.
Four principles of a satisfactory quality of life
The first pillar is well-being, which incorporates the age-friendly employer program, but goes further by specifying that we must ensure—as a society with adequate wealth and resources—that aging does not become synonymous with impoverishment, homelessness, malnutrition, isolation, or loneliness. Ensuring that everyone 50 and older has the means to be adequately housed, fed, and dressed will have a positive impact for all of society.
Second, health is an important area that needs attention in order to guarantee older people a satisfactory quality of life. They have specific needs that are unique to aging and its consequences. Aging is not a disease; it is a passing stage in life that happens to everyone. Older people must have access to a range of care—both short and long term, specialized and general—and priority must be placed on home care and the resources needed by natural caregivers.
Third, security is a key priority. As we age, our confidence may give way to vulnerability and insecurity. Unfortunately, unscrupulous actors may attempt take advantage of older people. This comes in the form of physical mistreatment and financial abuse. Quebec society had the responsibility to protect all people as they age.
Lastly, we believe that belonging is fundamental, as older people have spent a great deal of time honing their experience, broadening their knowledge, and validating their intuitions. We should be making the most of this fact and collectively enjoying the luxury of listening to them, asking them what they think about current issues, giving them a more active role, and including them in decision-making processes. Let's guarantee them the right to be active, full-fledged citizens.
These criteria are all-encompassing and affect issues such as food, income, and socialization. As a societal movement, the Réseau FADOQ has decided to champion the social contract in order to tackle issues and anticipate the effects of the demographic wave that is now on our doorstep. We encourage citizens and governments to commit to the well-being of older people.
In this sense, the Réseau FADOQ has ensured that all four parties at the National Assembly agree on signing the social contract in a nonpartisan manner. We eagerly await the outcome of these events.
The Réseau FADOQ is composed of affiliated organizations. Its mission is to bring together people aged 50 and older and to represent them in proceedings requiring the recognition of their rights and needs. Also within its mandate is the mission to organize activities and offer programs and services that meet their needs. Today, the Réseau FADOQ has more than 275,000 members and is the largest older persons organization in Canada.
About the author
Danis Prud’homme was appointed Executive Director of FADOQ, the Quebec Federation for Senior Citizens, in November 2008. Prior to this he worked as campaign coordinator, major gift manager, planned gift manager, director of development, and executive director for various organizations in health and education.
He served as president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Quebec, member of the AFP Canada Foundation, and member of the AFP committee on publications.
He discovered his passion for philanthropy more than 20 years ago when he participated in the organization of the United Way Appeal in Nova Scotia.
Mr. Prud’homme holds a degree in business administration from the Royal Military College of Canada and completed a certificate in fundraising management from the Fundraising School at Indiana University.