Government of Canada supports social innovation projects for seniors

Minister of State for Seniors underscores Government's leading role

TORONTO, May 21, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), highlighted today the Government of Canada's new direction in tackling certain issues facing seniors using a social innovation approach. Her comments were part of a speech delivered to participants at a conference focused on sharing knowledge in the field of aging, hosted by the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly.

In her remarks, Minister Wong recognized that although initiatives like the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) help address social issues among seniors, government programs and funds alone are not the complete answer. She noted the value of social innovation in helping to find solutions to issues like social isolation and loneliness. Social innovation is the result of combining resources, whether financial or in the form of expertise, from a variety of sectors to generate ideas and tools that address social problems in new ways.

Minister Wong also spoke of other measures that the Government of Canada is undertaking to help seniors in Canada. As part of Economic Action Plan 2014, it proposed the Canadian Employers for Caregivers plan, to help Canadians balance their work and caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, the Government recently tabled the Digital Privacy Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to better protect seniors from fraud and financial abuse. She also drew attention to a current call for proposals for NHSP community-based projects, which is open until July 4, 2014.

Quick Facts

  • Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes an additional $5 million per year for the NHSP to support projects that enable seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others. These projects also help communities increase their capacity to support seniors at a local level.
  • NHSP-funded projects help offset the challenges of our aging demographics, which is important since the number of seniors in Canada is expected to double in the next 20 years.
  • In 2013, a call for proposals for pilot projects on social isolation and intergenerational learning was launched. Minister Wong recently announced that 20 of these projects have been approved and will be starting in the months to come.


"Social innovation is about forging alliances between governments, the business community and community organizations, to pool our talents and resources to find new, efficient ways of addressing social issues. I'm excited that our government is playing a leading role in using this approach to bring together partners from federal, private and other sectors to address issues affecting seniors."
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

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Associated Links

Government of Canada Invests in Innovative Projects for Seniors across Canada

Government of Canada launches New Horizons for Seniors Program 2014-2015 Call for Proposals for Community-Based Projects

Harper government introduces the Digital Privacy Act, which will provide added protection for seniors against financial abuse


Social innovation

Social innovation refers to developing new ideas or using existing ideas to find solutions to social challenges. Social innovation is an initiative, product, process or program that creates positive social outcomes for societies.

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 in their communities. Through the NHSP, the Government of Canada encourages seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences to the benefit of others. Since 2006, the NHSP has funded more than 13,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada.

NHSP funding is targeted to community-based projects, pan-Canadian projects and pilot projects that focus on issues like social isolation and intergenerational learning.

Community-based project funding supports activities that engage seniors and address one or more of the program's five objectives: volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, social participation and capital assistance. These projects are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year per organization in grant funding. Over 1,770 NHSP community-based projects were approved through the 2013–2014 call for proposals, for a total of more than $33.4 million in funding.

Pan-Canadian projects provide support to help seniors protect themselves from elder abuse, including financial abuse and fraud. These projects help community members to recognize elder abuse in all its forms and to improve the quality of life, safety and security of seniors. Projects focus on developing tools, resources and promising practices that can be adapted and shared across communities, regions or Canada; they may be eligible to receive up to $250,000 per year for a maximum of three years.

The NHSP is also funding pilot projects that use a social innovation approach. A call for proposals was open between October 3 and November 13, 2013, seeking innovative projects that use the social innovation strategies of engaging partners and leveraging funding from other partners to help address seniors' isolation or intergenerational learning. These projects are eligible to receive up to $100,000 in federal funding and will have a maximum duration of 24 months.

Twenty pilot projects were recently approved, for a total of more than $1.4 million in funding.


SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada

For further information: Earl Maynard, Office of the Minister of State (Seniors), 613-716-5422; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559,, Follow us on Twitter


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