Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

May 20, 2009 09:30 ET

Government of Canada and National Seniors Council Listen to Seniors

SUMMERSIDE, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND--(Marketwire - May 20, 2009) - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Member of Parliament for Egmont, and members of the National Seniors Council (NSC) met with seniors' organizations and service providers in Summerside today to explore the NSC's two new priorities: volunteering among seniors; and positive and active aging.

"The Government of Canada recognizes seniors as valuable members of society who contribute a diversity of skills, knowledge and experience to their families and communities," said Minister Shea, on behalf of the Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors), who oversees the work of the NSC. "That is why our government has asked the National Seniors Council to make volunteering among seniors and positive and active aging its new priorities."

"We are confident that the work of the National Seniors Council will help the Government of Canada better understand the needs of seniors who are willing to dedicate their time and energy to their communities and their country," said Mr. Jean-Guy Souliere, Chair of the NSC. "We are also very pleased to look into what it takes for seniors to stay active, remain engaged and continue contributing to society."

This roundtable is the second of a series of cross-Canada roundtables on volunteering among seniors and positive and active aging. Since 2007, the NSC has undertaken work on elder abuse and low income among seniors, convening roundtable meetings across Canada with seniors, seniors' organizations and other stakeholders. These roundtables present an opportunity for the Council to identify possible areas for action to support seniors.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that policies, programs and services meet the evolving needs of seniors. Canada's Economic Action Plan announced a number of new initiatives that will have a positive effect on seniors:

- Increasing the Age Credit by $1,000 for 2009 and beyond to allow eligible seniors to receive up to an additional $150 in annual tax savings.

- Providing $400 million over two years through the Affordable Housing Initiative for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors.

- Providing seniors with $200 million in tax relief by reducing the required minimum withdrawal amount for 2008 from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 percent, in recognition of the impact of the deterioration in market conditions on retirement savings.

- Helping older workers and their families through these tough economic times by investing an additional $60 million over three years in the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, and by expanding the number of eligible communities to include older workers in small cities.

- Supporting positive and active aging through the collaborative Age-Friendly Communities initiative, Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Older Adults, and falls prevention initiatives.

- Establishing an independent Task Force to make recommendations on a cohesive national strategy on financial literacy for Canadians.

For more information on the NSC, please visit


The National Seniors Council

Mandate of the National Seniors Council

The National Seniors Council was announced in March 2007 to advise the federal government on all 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 Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, in light of her responsibilities with respect to seniors, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, whose portfolio reflects the importance of health-related issues for older Canadians. The Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors), is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Council.

Volunteering and positive and active aging

Minister LeBreton identified volunteering and positive and active aging as the Council's new priorities.

Volunteering is linked to improved quality of life, stronger social networks, increased mental well-being and higher physical activity levels. Volunteering also helps seniors navigate major life transitions, such as retirement.

Positive and active aging is a timely issue for Canadians, given our aging population.
With an increase in longevity, Canadians are enjoying more years of good health as they age. As such, many seniors will have longer periods of retirement in which to continue to contribute to Canadian society.

Council's first two priorities

The first two priorities of the Council, as identified by Minister LeBreton, were: exploring ways to raise awareness and combat elder abuse; and helping the Government find ways to support low-income seniors, particularly unattached women.

1. Elder abuse

In the fall of 2007, the National Seniors Council held five meetings with stakeholder groups in regions across the country to discuss elder abuse. The purpose of these meetings was for the Council to gain a solid appreciation of experts' and stakeholders' experiences in addressing elder abuse matters, particularly circumstances that provoke and lead to abuse of seniors. These meetings were held to enrich the pool of ideas on good practices for raising awareness as a means of prevention.

The National Seniors Council subsequently submitted a report on the issue to the federal government in November 2007.

The Government of Canada is helping combat all forms of elder abuse -physical, financial, psychological and sexual--as well as neglect.

In Budget 2008, the Government announced funding of $13 million over three years to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, and to provide information on what support is available. This is in addition to the funding provided to the New Horizons for Seniors Program to ensure a continued focus on raising awareness of elder abuse.

2. Low-income seniors

The Council began work on low income among seniors in late 2007 through an examination and review of national data on income, wealth and expenditure patterns among seniors, and a review of how public pension plans have helped reduce low income among seniors.

This work, as well as the roundtable meetings that followed, provided the foundation for the development of the Report of the National Seniors Council on Low Income Among Seniors, submitted in February 2009.

The federal government has recently helped low-income seniors through the following initiatives:

- In 2007-2008, the Government of Canada paid $32 billion in Old Age Security benefits, including $7.4 billion for the Guaranteed Income Supplement to low-income seniors.

- In 2008, the Government of Canada increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption to put more money in the pockets of working, low-income seniors. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500 or more, will now be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

Contact Information

  • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    Office of Minister LeBreton
    Rebecca Murphy