Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada

October 01, 2007 00:01 ET

Public Health Agency of Canada: Canada's Minister of Health Internationally Recognized for his Leadership Role in Seniors' Health Issues

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwire - Oct. 1, 2007) - Today, on the International Day of Older Persons, Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement received an international award from Help the Aged UK, distinguishing him as a leader in seniors' health issues. The Honourable Mike O'Brien, Minister of State for Pension Reform, UK, made the presentation to Minister Clement at an event to launch the World Health Organization's (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities Guide, a project that received $258,000 in funding from the Government of Canada.

"I am very honored to receive this prestigious award from an organization that's world-renowned for its commitment to seniors. Canada's New Government takes seniors' health issues very seriously, and we value the important role seniors play in communities around the globe," stated Minister Clement.

The WHO's Age-Friendly Cities Guide is a global tool designed to help communities make their urban centers more age-friendly. The WHO collaborated with 33 participating cities across the globe, including four Canadian cities: Saanich, British Colombia; Portage La Prairie, Manitoba; Sherbrooke, Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, to analyse the needs of an aging population and create the guide.

The Minister of Health also announced that Canada's New Government will commit an additional $150,000 in funding for global Age-Friendly City implementation and sustainability, which will support Phase II of the WHO's Age-Friendly Cities project.

"The Government of Canada is proud to be a key partner in the Age-Friendly Cities project. This ground-breaking initiative will provide the tools necessary for cities in Canada and around the world to make their communities better, healthier and safer places for seniors to live and thrive," said Minister Clement.

Through this funding, Canada's New Government will continue to work with Canadian provinces and territories, and municipalities world-wide, and to act as a leader in seniors' health promotion and well-being.

The support and close partnership of the Canadian government on this project is welcomed by the WHO. "An age-friendly city benefits everyone: children, the young and seniors," said Dr. Alex Kalache, Director of the Ageing and Life Course Programme in WHO. "For example, local activities that bring together people of all ages foster the spirit of harmony and solidarity between younger and older neighbours, and secure public areas are reassuring for children, youth, women and older adults."

Help the Aged, UK, is also a key partner in the Age-Friendly Cities project. "The Canadian government is playing a crucial role in developing knowledge and the policies needed to make communities for an aging population," added Director General Michael Lake. "The-Age Friendly Cities project is representative of a number of important initiatives that will bring tangible benefits to the lives of older people and I am pleased that Help the Aged could recognize this leadership through our International Award for 2007."

Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) acknowledged the work of the WHO and the leadership that the Public Health Agency of Canada has shown. "It is not only older people who will benefit through the application of the AFC guidelines, but society as a whole. We have an obligation to ensure that our communities, services, infrastructure and environments enable people from all ages to be active contributors to our society. With the increasing aged population, the built environment is an important part of meeting our needs into the future," said Dr. Barratt.

The Government has established a National Seniors Council, which reports to Minister Clement and Minister Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada. This Council aims to advise on matters related to the health, well-being and quality of life of seniors, focusing on both the opportunities and challenges presented by a rapidly growing and aging seniors' population.

For more information, please see the backgrounder on this initiative.


October 2007

Age-Friendly Cities

Age-Friendly Cities Project

The World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Age-Friendly Cities (AFC) project to engage cities worldwide in making their communities more age-friendly by identifying key elements needed to ensure that cities support healthy aging. Funded partially through the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) Population Health Fund and carried out by the WHO, the project supports governments and other sectors around the world in developing and strengthening health and social policies in an aging world. Among the 33 cities involved in this project are four Canadian cities: Saanich, British Columbia; Portage La Prairie, Manitoba; Sherbrooke, Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Age-Friendly Cities Guide

The WHO and the 33 participating cities gathered information from seniors, senior-care providers and other stakeholders to identify the major physical, social and health barriers they experience in city living. To share what they learned, the WHO produced a practical Age-Friendly Cities Guide. The themes of the guide include: community support and health services, outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, respect and social inclusion, social participation, communication and information, civic participation and employment.

For a copy of the complete WHO guide, please visit

Government of Canada's Role

The Government of Canada has been a key partner, providing $258,000 in funding through the Population Health Fund to the World Health Organization, which has allowed the organization to move forward with the Age-Friendly Cities project.

Beyond the financial support, Canada was able to provide in-kind and technical help to the project. This promotes integration of the health promotion approach used in Canada with the WHO Active Ageing Policy Framework. As well, partnering with the WHO helps to ensure that the knowledge is shared across countries and nations. Canada is also proud to provide $150,000 in funding to support Phase II of the project which will validate the Age-Friendly Cities Guide and identify ways to promote its implementation.

World Health Organization's Role

The WHO and partners from all continents consulted with older persons, and with community leaders and experts, to identify the major physical and social barriers to active aging. The knowledge from these consultations has been used to develop, implement and evaluate local action plans to make the environment more age-friendly. The WHO has compiled the results into a practical Age-Friendly Cities Guide that can be used by cities around the world.

Help the Aged UK's Role

Help the Aged UK is a British charity working to free disadvantaged older people in the United Kingdom and overseas from poverty, isolation and neglect. They are a key partner in the Age-Friendly Cities project as they have lent their expertise, policy know-how and organizational support to the Age-Friendly Cities Project and the other global projects on injury prevention and emergency preparedness aimed at strengthening active and healthy aging.

Help the Aged UK presented the Canadian Minister of Health, Tony Clement, with an International Award distinguishing him as a leader on seniors' health issues. This award acknowledges Canada's global leadership role on seniors' issues, particularly in the areas of emergency preparedness and healthy aging (through the Age-Friendly Cities project).

Government of Canada's previous work in the area of seniors' health

In May 2006, the Public Health Agency of Canada received Help the Aged UK's International Award for 2006 from Queen Elizabeth for its leadership of a global initiative involving the World Health Organization, Help the Aged UK and representatives of other governments. This initiative was aimed at identifying the particular vulnerability of older people during emergencies and establishing best practices in protecting older people in extreme circumstances. Their efforts included looking at ways to engage seniors themselves and volunteer organisations in preparing for and responding to emergencies.

The Agency followed by organizing the Winnipeg International Workshop on Seniors and Emergency Preparedness in February 2007.

Canada's sustained interest in the issue of seniors' falls and injury prevention led to the development of award-winning publications such as The Safe Living Guide and innovative reports, such as the 2005 Report on Seniors' Falls in Canada.

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Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Public Health Agency of Canada
    Alain Desroches
    Media Relations Officer
    Office of the Honourable Tony Clement
    Federal Minister of Health
    Laryssa Waler