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Legal Ease: Let’s compare 1986 with 2016

Please click here for stories and remembrances from The Senior Times newsroom as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Celebrating the 30th birthday of The Senior Times has led me to think about our population structure and the importance of age in the law.

The world was smaller 30 years ago. In 1986 the world population was 4.9 billion; today it is an estimated 7.5 billion. The population of Quebec in 1986 was 6,532,000; it is now 8,263,600. The population of Canada has grown from 26.2 million to 36.4 million. The population of the United States was 240,132,887; it has grown to 324,118,787. Life expectancy in Canada has increased from 76.44 years to 81.85 years. In the U.S.A it has increased from 74.7 years to 79 years.

Our world was different in 1986. Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada and Robert Bourassa was Premier of Quebec. The American president was Ronald W. Reagan; the Vice President was George Bush Senior. Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The most horrifying events of that year were probably the major nuclear accident at the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl power station and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, 73 seconds into its flight.

Today we are frightened and obsessed with the brutality of terrorism. It is in the context of this world that our own society attempts to protect the young and the old. Age is an important factor under the law. Under the Civil Code of Quebec and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, every child has a right to the protection of his parents and others responsible for him and all decisions concerning him must be made in his interest.

Upon reaching the age of 18, the age of majority in Québec, a child becomes fully capable of exercising all his civil rights. Until this age, he is a “minor” and must be assisted and represented by his parents or a tutor. When a child turns 14 there is a gradual acquisition of autonomy. From the age of 14 he can consent to care required by his state of health and enter into contracts to meet ordinary, everyday needs. He is also considered to be of full age for purposes of his employment. At 16 he may request his emancipation relieving him from the necessity of being represented in the exercise of his civil rights. He can also marry and obtain a driver’s license. Until he turns 18 a child has the right to an education and is obliged to remain in school until 16.

Protection under the law

Seniors too are protected by the law. The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms provides for protection of the “aged” against any form of exploitation and grants them a right to the protection and security to be provided by their family and anyone else acting in place of the family. In recent years legislation has been passed with regard to assisted living residences and end-of- life-care which affects everybody but especially seniors. Whereas the age of a minor is well defined in law, that of a senior is not. To a 20-year-old, a senior may be anyone over 50; to a 70-year-old, it may be anyone 90. A popular cut-off date in law is 65.

According to population estimates of Statistics Canada as of Sept 2015 for the first time ever, there were more people in Canada 65 and over, than there were under 15.

Seniors made up 16.1 per cent of Canada’s population as of July 1, 2015 compared to 16 per cent for children between the ages of 0 and 14. Nearly one in six Canadians (16.1%)—a record 5,780,900 Canadians—was at least 65. In 2014/2015, the growth rate of the population 65 and older was 3.5%, approximately four times the growth rate of the total population. The annual growth rate of this age group has accelerated since 2011, when the first members of the baby boom generation (persons born between 1946 and 1965) turned 65. On July 1, 2015, 18.2% of baby boomers were 65 and older.

It is this growing older population that The Senior Times addresses with articles, and resources concerning care and social support, elder abuse and victimization, health and disability, legal issues, housing and living arrangements, financial planning, work, retirement, travel and recreation. It also serves as a reference for those caring for and concerned with this ever increasing population. That The Senior Times continues to provide its readers with pertinent, helpful and interesting information after 30 years is testimony to its value. So Happy 30th Birthday Senior Times! We look forward to many more years of being informed and entertained by you.

Editor’s Note: It has been a privilege to have Joyce Blond Frank, who has recently retired as a lawyer, pen our legal column for the past few years. She has been instrumental in informing us of our rights and obligations as children, parents, grandparents and citizens of
Montreal, Canada, and the world.

Thank you Joyce for contributing your immense knowledge of the way the world works legally to our Senior Times issues.

On another note, Elie Wiesel’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize was cited in our first issue of The Senior Times, October, 1986.

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One Comment

  1. marjorie lowe says:

    What a change in our population no wonder the world is in such turmoil . Our land is being destroyed by bombs in the middle east thus we don’t have enough good terrain to provide food for all these people . How terribly sad.

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