National Seniors Council to explore adverse effects of social isolation

Nov 29, 2013, 13:00 ET from Employment and Social Development Canada

REGINA, SK, Nov. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), and members of the National Seniors Council (NSC) met today in Regina with seniors' organizations, service and health providers, and researchers and practitioners to assess how social isolation affects seniors and how best to tackle the issue in Canada.

"Social isolation affects the overall well-being of seniors. It can be harmful to their health and their participation in family life, and affect their place in workplaces and communities," said Minister of State Wong, who oversees the day-to-day work of the Council. "Our government is working hard to tackle issues like social isolation by listening to seniors and consulting with key players from the non-profit, public and private sectors."

The NSC met with individuals and organizations from across Saskatchewan as part of a series of cross-country round tables. Social isolation touches many aspects of seniors' lives, including active participation, healthy ageing, income security, caregiving, elder abuse and transportation. For example, social isolation can lead to depression and increased vulnerability to elder abuse, among other concerns. Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey 2008-2009 found that 19 percent of seniors aged 65 or over felt a lack of companionship, left out or isolated from others.

"We are confident that the National Seniors Council's findings will help the Government of Canada better understand and address the needs of seniors," said Dr. Andrew Wister, member of the NSC. "Keeping seniors active and socially engaged benefits not just the senior, but their communities as a whole."

Since 2007, the NSC has undertaken work on elder abuse and low income among seniors, volunteerism, positive and active ageing, and most recently explored approaches to retaining and attracting older workers in the labour force.

On October 1, 2013, National Seniors Day, the Government of Canada announced a Call for Proposals to fund approximately 20 pilot projects—an investment of $2,000,000—aimed at addressing seniors' social isolation.

For more information on the NSC, visit


The National Seniors Council (NSC)

The NSC advises on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, including the opportunities and challenges arising from a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse seniors population.

  • The Council reports to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health.  The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Council.

  • NSC members include seniors, representatives of organizations that serve seniors and/or experts on seniors and ageing.

  • The Government of Canada established the NSC in 2007 to provide advice on the overall well-being of seniors, both now and in the future.

The Government of Canada is working hard to help improve the lives of seniors on many fronts. These efforts include:

  • redeveloping as a central resource for seniors including a new Information for Seniors section that brings together a variety of federal, provincial/territorial and municipal resources about relevant programs and benefits;

  • providing Canadians with close to $76 billion this year through Canada's public pension system;

  • a top-up to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) in 2011 to help Canada's most vulnerable seniors. This was the largest increase in 25 years to the GIS for the lowest-income seniors. This measure further improves the financial security and well-being of more than 680 000 seniors across Canada;

  • providing $2.7 billion in 2013 in tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting and increasing the Age credit;

  • providing $400 million over two years under Canada's Economic Action Plan for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors;

  • making a strong investment in the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) through an annual budget of $45 million. Since 2006, the NHSP has funded more than 11 200 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada;

  • investing up to $2 million for approximately 20 pilot projects that will address the isolation of seniors and intergenerational learning through the New Horizons for Seniors Program;

  • actions to address elder abuse, including awareness campaigns, projects funded by the New Horizons for Seniors Program to raise awareness of elder abuse and legislation to help ensure consistently tough penalties for offences involving the abuse of elderly people; and

  • supporting positive and active aging through the collaborative Age-Friendly Communities Initiative, Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults and falls-prevention initiatives.

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada