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Is Canada Ready for an Aging Population?

Senate Special Committee on Aging Identifies Serious Gaps for Older Canadians in
Canada's Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity

 
 
 
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Sharon Carstairs, P.C.


Wilbert Joseph Keon

Maria Chaput

Anne C. Cools

Jane Cordy

Terry M. Mercer

Terry Stratton

 
 
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Karen Schwinghamer
Media Relations
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Keli Hogan
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Ottawa (April 21, 2009) – Canada should be doing more to assist its aging population, the members of the Special Senate Committee on Aging conclude in their final report Canada’s Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity. Addressing the issues of today’s seniors has serious implications for the seniors of the future

“Our committee has heard from Canadians across the country, and it’s clear there are some serious gaps to be addressed in health care, housing, transportation and support systems among other issues. Some seniors are being denied their rights. We need to create conditions so that Canada’s aging population will have access to services that will give them choices as they age,” says Senator Sharon Carstairs, Chair of the committee. “We have to reorganize ourselves in ways that transcend jurisdictional issues and focus on the needs of our citizens at different stages in their lives.”

“Integrated health and social care is a good example of what we need to be working towards,” says Senator Wilbert J. Keon, Deputy Chair of the committee. “We need to put the person at the centre and provide them with what they need at the time that they need it, whether for physical or mental health care. Too many people are falling through the cracks and we need to fix the system so that there is a smooth transition as their needs change.”

The committee members feel strongly that five overarching recommendations are essential to seize the opportunity of an aging population to build a better, more inclusive Canada.

The committee recommends that the federal government:

  • Move immediately to take steps to promote active aging and healthy aging and to combat ageism;
  • Provide leadership and coordination through initiatives such as a National Integrated Care Initiative, a National Caregiver Strategy, a National Pharmacare Program, and a federal transfer to address the needs of provinces with the highest proportion of the aging population;  
  • Ensure the financial security of Canadians by addressing the needs of older workers, pension reform and income security reform;
  • Facilitate the desire of Canadians to age in their place of choice with adequate housing, transportation, and integrated health and social care services; and
  • Act immediately to implement changes for those populations groups for which it has a specific direct service responsibility, and in relation to Canada’s official language commitments.

For a summary of the committee’s vision and related supporting recommendations, please see attached documents.

Senator Carstairs is known for her substantial contribution to the field of palliative care in Canada, particularly in her role as Minister with Special Responsibility for Palliative Care. Senator Keon is one of the founders of the Ottawa Heart Institute and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in October of 2007.

The committee released its first interim report in March 2007, Embracing the Challenge of Aging, which summarized the findings of the first phase of the study and also identified key overarching questions for the next phases to be studied. The second interim report, Issues and Options for an Aging Population, was released in March 2008 and invited comment from Canadians about possible options.

The committee members are the Honourable Senators:

Sharon Carstairs (Manitoba), Chair; Wilbert Joseph Keon (Ottawa - Ontario), Deputy Chair; Maria Chaput (Manitoba); Anne C. Cools (Toronto Centre-York - Ontario); Jane Cordy (Nova Scotia); Terry M. Mercer (Northend Halifax - Nova Scotia); Terry Stratton (Red River - Manitoba)

For more information, please visit: www.senate-senat.ca/age-e.asp

     
  Quotes

“Our committee has heard from Canadians across the country, and it’s clear there are some serious gaps to be addressed in health care, housing, transportation and support systems among other issues. Some seniors are being denied their rights.  We need to create conditions so that Canada’s aging population will have access to services that will give them choices as they age,” says Senator Sharon Carstairs, Chair of the committee.   “We have to reorganize ourselves in ways that transcends jurisdictional issues and focus on the needs of our citizens at different stages in their lives.”

“Integrated health and social care is a good example of what we need to be working towards,” says Senator Wilbert J. Keon, Deputy Chair of the committee. “We need to put the person at the centre and provide them with what they need at the time that they need it, whether for physical or mental health care.  Too many people are falling through the cracks and we need to fix the system so that there is a smooth transition as their needs change.”
 
     


 

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