Minister of State (Seniors) highlights new approach to address the social isolation of seniors in Canada

VANCOUVER, Feb. 11, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), highlighted the Government of Canada's work to tackle the social isolation of seniors in Canada during remarks delivered today at the University of British Columbia.

Social isolation is commonly defined as a low quantity and quality of contact with others. A situation of social isolation involves few social contacts and few social roles, as well as the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.

Social isolation touches many aspects of seniors' lives, including access to information and services, active participation in the community, healthy aging, income security and caregiving. Social isolation can lead to depression and increased vulnerability to elder abuse, among other concerns.

In her remarks, Minister Wong encouraged communities to take a coordinated approach to address the social isolation of seniors. The Government of Canada has a number of programs and activities aimed at creating awareness and addressing the impact of this growing issue.

These programs and activities include initiatives like the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) pilot projects on social isolation, the recent report of the National Seniors Council, and their ongoing work which will include a focus on examining ways to encourage local communities to reach out to socially isolated seniors. The social isolation of seniors is also one of the priorities to be examined this year by the Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors.

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is committed to supporting and promoting seniors' health, well-being and contributions by encouraging them to stay active, engaged and informed.
  • Today, 1 in 7 Canadians is aged 65 or over. By 2036, nearly 1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior.
  • Over the last decade in Canada, life expectancy at age 65 increased by 2 years, approximately twice the rate of growth observed over each of the previous decades since 1929.
  • In 2014, the National Seniors Council was asked to assess the impact of social isolation on seniors in Canada and explore ways to prevent, or reduce it. The Council presented a report that highlighted the importance of working with those who deliver services and programs directly to seniors.


"Social isolation affects seniors' economic, social, physical and mental well-being. It's an issue that is both pervasive and difficult to resolve. But it is also preventable. I am confident we can address the isolation of seniors through social innovation. Social innovation succeeds by combining resources from governments, businesses, community organizations and academics to generate new ideas and tools that address social problems in new ways."
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

Associated Links
National Seniors Council
New Horizons for Seniors Program
Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum



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 Minister of Employment and Social Development and the 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 aging.

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.

For more information, please visit

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.

NHSP funding is targeted to community-based projects, as well as projects that are focused upon a particular issue, such as elder abuse or social isolation.

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.

The Social Isolation Pilots help address seniors' isolation by establishing better social support networks and resources and initiating community interventions. It also supports intergenerational learning projects that help seniors develop new interests and share their knowledge and experience with others. These pilot projects are receiving up to $100,000 in federal funding over a maximum of 24 months, 50 percent of which is being matched with funding from other sources.

For more information on the NHSP, visit

Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors

The Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) Ministers Responsible for Seniors was established in 1992 by F/P/T governments to advance issues of common concern. The focus is on concrete, collaborative projects and actions that will have an impact on the lives of seniors. The Ministers meet regularly to discuss issues of importance to seniors and to share information on seniors' well-being from their respective jurisdictions.

For more information on the Forum, visit


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; Like us on Facebook


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