Report of the National Seniors Council on Low Income Among Seniors
Message from the National Seniors Council
At the inaugural meeting of the National Seniors Council in May 2007, the Minister of State (Seniors) identified two initial priorities: to develop ways to raise awareness and address the problem of elder abuse; and to better understand the issue of low income among seniors, particularly unattached women.
The Council submitted its report on elder abuse to Ministers in November 2007, which included advice to consider developing a national awareness campaign on the issue. The Council is pleased that the 2008 federal budget committed $13 million that includes such a campaign as well as the development of information and resource tools for those who help and serve seniors.
The Council began work on the issue of low income among seniors by examining the income, wealth and expenditure patterns of seniors, and reviewing the public pension system. While this work provided a broad overview, it did not capture the daily realities faced by many low-income seniors. To address this gap, the National Seniors Council convened 11 Roundtables on Seniors’ Well-Being between February and May 2008. At the roundtables, the Council met with individuals and organizations that work with seniors to discuss the experiences and challenges faced by low-income seniors in their communities. These sessions were invaluable to understanding the issue, and we would like to thank participants for sharing their time, views and expertise.
The Council’s review of the research, along with discussions with participants, revealed the complexity of the issue, the need for all levels of government and sectors of society to work together, and the importance of working to improve the well-being and quality of life of Canada’s financially vulnerable seniors.
The report provides Ministers with a description of the challenges faced by low-income seniors and the major factors that negatively affect the quality of their lives. The Council has identified the following five areas where the federal government could consider action to improve the situation of many low-income seniors:
- address the impact of the cost of living and – more specifically – the cost of energy and food, on low-income seniors;
- provide more accessible and affordable housing;
- ensure that more seniors maintain their independence;
- ensure that low-income seniors have all the necessary access to needed health services and supplies without a negative impact on their income; and
- ensure that seniors are aware of the services available to them.
Chair, National Seniors Council
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