Government of Canada working hard to support homeless seniors

OTTAWA, July 24, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), was pleased today to highlight the Government of Canada's ongoing efforts with organizations such as The Salvation Army, to help improve the lives of seniors across the country.

Through programs such as the new Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Government of Canada is committed to helping vulnerable seniors—particularly those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and who are incapable of managing their own affairs—to receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for which they are eligible.

The Government is undertaking targeted efforts, working closely with municipalities, community organizations and front-line outreach and service providers, to increase their capacity to assist seniors who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Through the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, community organizations that are non-profit or registered charitable organizations and municipalities can apply to act as third-party administrators of CPP and/or OAS benefits for homeless seniors. As a third-party administrator, qualified individuals and organizations can apply for and receive CPP and/or OAS benefits on behalf of the senior they serve and represent, and then pay out the benefits in the best interest of that person.

The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people, including seniors in over 400 communities across Canada. They offer assistance to seniors, tending to the basic necessities of life, which includes providing shelter for those who are homeless, as well as other supports and services for homeless, vulnerable seniors.

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is committed to the well-being of Canada's seniors by working with all levels of government, seniors' organizations and stakeholders to develop policies and programs that support seniors.
  • The Supporting Homeless Seniors Program builds on other activities the Government has undertaken to support vulnerable seniors, who are often socially isolated. Ongoing initiatives include:
    • The New Horizons for Seniors Program, which funds projects that will help prevent and reduce social isolation among seniors; and,
    • The Homelessness Partnering Strategy, a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities, as well as Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada.
  • Social isolation is commonly defined as a low quantity and quality of contact with others. Social isolation involves a situation of few social contacts, few social roles and the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.

Quotes

"Through the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that homeless seniors receive the CPP and OAS benefits for which they are eligible. We are working closely with front-line organizations to reach and support Canada's most vulnerable seniors."
- The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

"The Salvation Army is excited about the targeted efforts the Government has taken to assist one of our often-forgotten assets: our aging Canadians, a growing community in Canada that is increasingly marginalized and in need of assistance."
- Tony Brushett, Assistant Executive Director, The Salvation Army, Ottawa Booth Centre

"In Ottawa more than 9,000 seniors live in poverty and 6% don't receive the support they need. With an aging population, these numbers are expected to increase in Canada. Today's announcement will go a long way to support the most vulnerable seniors in our communities by helping to increase access to financial resources that are critical for those seniors who are homeless or at risk of being homeless." 
- Carole Gagnon, Vice President, Community Investment, United Way Ottawa

 "As a current funder of a voluntary Trusteeship program, the City of Windsor is very supportive of the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program. The proposed changes will provide easier access to financial management, coaching and vital income supports that allow individuals and families who are at risk to obtain housing and remain housed." 
- Community Development and Health Services, City of Windsor

"Through the provisions of the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Trusteeship program administered by the City of Brantford is better able to assist homeless seniors with managing their income in a concerted effort to address homelessness and to prevent the risk of homelessness.  The program provides us with a greater capacity to assist older adults in our community who are vulnerable and at higher risk of homelessness." 
- Jo Atanas, City of Brantford General Manager, Social Services

Associated Links

Supporting Homeless Seniors Program 
Canada.ca/Seniors 
Homelessness Partnering Strategy 
Housing First

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Backgrounder


Supporting Homeless Seniors Program  

The Government of Canada is committed to reaching homeless seniors and ensuring they receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for which they are eligible.

Non-profit and registered charitable organizations and municipalities can apply to act as administrators of CPP and/or OAS benefits for seniors who are homeless, or at imminent risk of being homeless, and who are incapable of managing their own affairs. This will apply only in cases where the Minister of Employment and Social Development is not aware of the existence of another person or agency already authorized to manage the individual's financial affairs.

To find out if an organization or municipality qualifies as a third-party administrator, or to apply to become one, visit servicecanada.gc.ca.

Canada's public pensions

Canada's public pensions have played a major role in reducing the incidence of low income among seniors, from 21.4 percent in 1980 to 5.2 percent in 2011. Canada now has one of the lowest rates of low income among seniors in the world.

The CPP is a stable, well-designed plan that is portable from province to province and fiscally sustainable over the long run. The Chief Actuary of Canada has confirmed that the CPP is financially sound and is fully sustainable for generations to come.

The OAS program is funded through general tax revenues and provides a basic monthly income for Canadian seniors. The Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowances provide additional income to low-income pensioners, their spouses or common-law partners, and eligible survivors.

New Horizons for Seniors Program

The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and their communities. Through the NHSP, the Government of Canada encourages seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences to the benefit of others.

The objectives of the NHSP are:

  • promoting volunteerism among seniors;
  • engaging seniors in the community through mentoring of others;
  • expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
  • supporting social participation and inclusion of seniors; and
  • providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.

NHSP funding supports community-based and pan-Canadian projects that help to keep Canadian seniors active, engaged and informed. Recent NHSP calls for proposals for both community-based projects and pan-Canadian projects closed on July 10, 2015.

Community-based projects under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) that enable seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others, and help communities increase their capacity to address local issues, are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year, per organization.

Pan-Canadian projects test and share best practices across the country, and replicate interventions that have worked well in addressing seniors' issues. The Pan-Canadian 2015-2016 call for proposals focuses on projects that help to reduce social isolation among seniors. Previous calls for proposals have focused on increasing the awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse. Pan-Canadian projects may be funded between $150,000 and $750,000, for up to a maximum of three years.

For more information on the NHSP, visit Canada.ca/Seniors.

Homelessness Partnering Strategy

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.

Economic Action Plan 2013 renewed the HPS with nearly $600 million in total funding over five years, ending in March 2019, using a Housing First approach.

Until recently, the most common way to deal with homelessness has been a "crisis-based" model—not just in Canada, but in many developed countries. This model involves relying heavily on shelters and other emergency interventions. Typically, individuals must first participate in a series of treatments and demonstrate sobriety before they are offered housing. This approach has been costly and not effective for the long term.

Without stable housing, it is much more difficult to participate in treatment programs and manage mental and physical health issues. This leads to high costs for emergency housing, hospitalization, shelters, prisons and a host of other crisis services.

Housing First, on the other hand, involves ensuring individuals have immediate housing before providing the necessary supports to help them stabilize their lives. Experiences in other countries have demonstrated that this approach shows great promise. 

In 2008 the Government invested $110 million in the Mental Health Commission of Canada to undertake our own landmark study. The results demonstrated that:

  • Housing First rapidly ends homelessness and leads to other positive outcomes for quality of life;
  • it is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. Every $10 invested in Housing First services led to an average savings to government of $21.72 for participants who used emergency and social services the most; and
  • it works in the long term. Over the course of the study, participants in the Housing First group spent an average of 73 percent of their time in stable housing, compared to 32 percent for the group receiving usual care.

Overall, the project demonstrated that the Housing First approach can reduce the economic and social costs of homelessness, such as those related to health care and the justice system. In addition, those who received both housing and supportive services showed more signs of recovery than those who did not.

 

SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

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