Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Premier Gordon Campbell promised Friday to eliminate mandatory retirement to cope with a "silver tsunami" -- one quarter of the population -- who will be over 65 within 25 years.
Campbell was responding to a report of the Premier's Council on Aging and Seniors' Issues, which described the lack of protection from age discrimination for British Columbians 65 and over as fundamentally unfair.
By 2031, there will be 1.3 million British Columbians over 65 -- double the number today.
"We want to see a future where older people are seen as an integral part of our social and economic life," said Patricia Baird, chairwoman of the 18-member premier's council, which has met with hundreds of seniors, community organizations, academics, health professionals and business leaders over the past 13 months.
"Older people should be welcomed to use their talent and experience, but also assisted when poor health or low income prevent a good quality of life."
B.C. will be one of the last provinces to eliminate mandatory retirement. Legislation in Ontario takes effect this month. Campbell said he expects to introduce legislation in the spring. B.C.'s Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination because of a person's age but defines age as being "an age of 19 years or more and less than 65 years."