By 2030, adults aged 65 or older will make up 23 per cent of Canada’s population and number over 9.5 million. They represent the fastest growing segment of the population, but gaps in Canada’s health care and social policies are putting barriers in the way of their independence and their role in maintaining vibrant, healthy communities and economies.
Tackling these issues independently will not give us the results we need. A coordinated national seniors strategy, with dedicated funding and accountable goals, will ensure we meet the evolving needs of older Canadians. Federal Retirees has long called for a national seniors strategy focused on enhancing older Canadians’ quality of life at all stages, through income security, access to affordable and appropriate housing and transportation, age-friendly communities and adequate home, community and health care services.
By addressing the social determinants of health, this government can provide a blueprint for an integrated continuum of care that meets the needs of a growing older adult population, supports a strong economy across generations, and addresses the gaps in Canada’s social policies that interfere with older Canadians’ participation in everyday life.
Implementing a national seniors strategy is an important task. The policy implications are significant and require more than a few pages to properly address. This first part, provided in March 2020, introduces a national seniors strategy and our recommendations for elements that should be included in the strategy. In the following section, we present context for each of the policy areas touched on a national seniors strategy, along with sub-recommendations. Over the coming months, we will provide additional parts that offer more in-depth information about each of the policy areas relevant to a national seniors strategy, focusing on specific priority areas and their importance in creating an effective strategy to meet the needs of Canadians as they age.
Implement a National Seniors Strategy
As stated in the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance’s report, Getting Ready: For a New Generation of Active Seniors, a national seniors strategy is needed to control the increasing costs related to an aging population, relieve the pressure being placed on an already stressed health care system and ensure older Canadians get the care they need, when and where they need it.
Implementing a national seniors strategy that meets the growing and changing needs of Canada’s aging population requires a coordinated and integrated effort involving all levels of government, as well as the private and public sectors. The only way to ensure the success of such an approach is for the federal government to play a leadership role.
Today, with an average Canadian life expectancy of more than 80, physicians believe Canadians who reach 65 without major complications can realistically look forward to 20 more years of life, 17 of them in good health. However, most policies affecting older Canadians were designed for an age when retirement was something that occurred near the end of one’s life. Retirement is becoming something quite different — and Canada’s social and health policies for older Canadians must change with it.
For these reasons, Federal Retirees calls on the federal government to develop and implement a national seniors strategy.