VOICES of Canada’s Seniors:
A ROADMAP TO AN AGE-INCLUSIVE CANADA
CanAge is Canada’s independent nonprofit seniors’ advocacy organization.
CanAge educates, empowers, and mobilizes people on the issues that matter most to seniors and their families. We believe every Canadian - independent of age - deserves a vibrant, connected, and meaningful life with equitable access to the resources needed to thrive.
Our mission: to advance the rights and well-being of Canadians as they age.
Our vision: for older Canadians to live vibrant and connected lives.
Our work: turning intent into impact, measuring success through tangible results by engaging supporters, taking action, and changing lives for the better.
As a pan-Canadian organization, CanAge knows that older Canadians are diverse in their experience, perspectives, passions, and contexts. As a group, Canadian seniors will represent 23% of the population by 2030. Politically engaged, Canadian seniors are consistently the most active voter group at the polls, with approximately 72% of seniors indicating that they vote in every election and nearly 80% voting in the last 2 federal elections.
Yet older Canadians are often marginalized because of their age. This is particularly true of those who live in long-term care homes, as we have witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What this pandemic has taught us as a country is that no one single organization or government can “fix” seniors’ issues. Only by truly working together in a multi-sectoral approach can we leverage the creativity of individuals, the compassion of caregivers, the power of communities, the expertise of professionals, and the impact of organizations.
To this end, CanAge has consulted broadly from coast to coast to coast. We engaged in evidence-based reviews, highlighted best practices, and identified stubborn or complex issues. We viewed these issues through diverse lenses to ensure that we represented the varied experiences of often marginalized communities.
This Roadmap is extensive. It is supposed to be. It is about system change. It is about replicating and scaling innovative practices. It is about re-orienting a nation. It is about laying the groundwork for an Age-Inclusive Canada. Join us. We can only do it together.
We are pleased to present VOICES: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada.
The 6 Compass Points of this Roadmap are:
V - Violence and Abuse Prevention
O - Optimal Health and Wellness
I - Infection Prevention and Disaster Response
C - Caregiving, Long-Term Care, Home Care, and Housing Resources
E - Economic Security
S - Social Inclusion
Under each Compass Point, we map critical issues. We provide recommendations and practical steps with the aim of improving the lives of older Canadians now and in the future.
Not every issue is dire. Indeed, excellent work is being done by individuals, caregivers, communities, professionals, and organizations across this country. This Roadmap charts these landmark achievements and makes recommendations that build on their successes.
We recognize the many achievements, deep expertise, and lived experiences of older adults and their supporters across Canada. We recognize you.
These recommendations are drawn from your successes and your enduring challenges. We acknowledge and appreciate your leadership, your resilience, and your stories. We could not have come this far without your insight. We can only go further with your support.
CanAge will use this Roadmap in our advocacy and program efforts, selecting key initiatives for our focus.
We invite you to use this Roadmap to support your work, your focus, and your investment.
Together we can truly make Canada an Age-Inclusive country.
As we prepared an analysis of the current situation facing older people across Canada and proposed solutions, we sought to look through the lenses of a variety of diverse perspectives in order to raise and address issues of marginalization within the context of seniors’ lived experiences.
A FINAL NOTE FROM THE CEO OF CANAGE: LAURA TAMBLYN WATTS
As Canada’s population continues to age, we must move forward as a country to address these pressing needs. This Roadmap for an Age-Inclusive Canada is part of that needed work.
CanAge was privileged to engage with seniors, families, caregivers, faith-leaders, researchers and educators, labour groups, employers, financial sector leaders, regulators, community and issue-based organizations, health care providers, as well as government representatives from all major political parties across the country. We talked to grandparents. We talked with veterans. We talked to federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers. We talked to Archbishops. We talked to local community collectives.
We consulted with, and learned from, those people and groups who identify as part of historically marginalized communities.
We honour the experiences and insight of our Indigenous elders, and all those who make our country rich in diversity and tradition.
We talked with everyone we could.
But mostly we listened.
We gathered experiences, stories, frustrations, and successes from across the country.
Then we used evidence-based research, systematic reviews, best practices, and cutting edge academic and scientific research. We incorporated previous public enquiries and commission reports. We mined statistical data.
Throughout, we consulted with seniors in all types of settings during COVID-19, including some of whom remained fully isolated in long-term care homes.
Not every issue was included in this Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada. This Roadmap, like all maps, is a representation of the landscape, but can never include everything. We tried to faithfully lay the course of those who directed us and shared their paths.
But COVID-19 has forever changed the landscape of seniors in Canada.
Heartbreaking and horrifying military whistleblower reports of profound institutional neglect have finally made us confront our passivity regarding seniors’ care. Our collective societal neglect.
Some seniors could did not have the chance to leave their rooms or their residences in months. Many families could not come near their ageing parents and grandparents for fear of transmitting the virus to them. Isolation and loneliness have coloured everything.
For some, retirement savings are precarious. Pensions are at risk. Reports of elder abuse and neglect have appeared to skyrocket, including an immediate deluge of COVID-19 frauds and scams.
It is clear there is much to be done. Canada recently signed on as a supporter of the UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons. But rights need remedies. That is one of the reasons why CanAge is strongly supportive of a Federal Office of the Seniors’ Advocate. Rights need champions and protectors.
As a partner in advancing the rights of older Canadians, we invite you to commit to specific and measurable actions that will provide seniors with the supports they need to live the lives they deserve.
Canada requires a new plan. A new paradigm. A new way forward. We at CanAge hope that VOICES of Canada’s Seniors: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada can assist our communities working together with stakeholders and governments, to forge a new road ahead. A road of purpose. Vitality. Health. Connection and well-being.
We now call on all parties and stakeholders to listen to the VOICES of Canada’s Seniors.
COVID-19 has changed the landscape of Canada’s seniors forever. With only 18% of all cases in Long-term Care, we lost an unconscionable 81% of those lives.
Laura Tamblyn Watts, LLB
President and CEO
Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization.
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