Report of the National Seniors Council on Volunteering Among Seniors and Positive and Active Aging

Conclusion

The National Seniors Council recognizes what most Canadians know, that seniors are a rich and vibrant element of society and provide a valuable contribution to Canada. Canadian seniors are living longer and enjoying more years of good physical and mental health. As Canada's population continues to age, it is important that all sectors of society work together to ensure seniors remain healthy and engaged in our communities for as long as possible.

The nine roundtables across Canada provided the Council with a valuable opportunity to engage face-to-face with many Canadians and discuss the topics of positive and active aging, along with volunteering among seniors. The connection between positive and active aging and volunteering among seniors was repeatedly raised. Indeed, participants noted that a circular relationship exists between positive and active aging and volunteering: those who are aging positively and actively also tend to volunteer, while those who volunteer tend to be aging positively and actively.

The Council's desire to examine these issues was driven by the notion that by opening a dialogue and engaging with a cross-section of Canadians, we could contribute positively to ensuring that positive and active aging and volunteering among seniors remain important public policy goals in Canada. The Council notes that ageism, elder abuse and access to, and knowledge of, existing services, are all barriers that must be overcome to ensure that Canadian seniors are able to age positively and actively. Similarly, barriers to volunteering among seniors are many and include conflicting responsibilities among younger seniors and "boomers," accessibility to volunteer opportunities and the costs associated with volunteering.

Seniors in Canada are, however, supported by a strong network of programs and services available across the country. The Council acknowledges the important work that the Government of Canada has already undertaken to support positive and active aging and volunteering among seniors. The roundtables also provided the Council with the opportunity to learn more about promising practices and initiatives being conducted by provinces, territories and municipalities, as well as in the business and not-for-profit sectors.

The National Seniors Council recognizes that positive and active aging and volunteering among seniors are complex issues which must be addressed by all sectors of society given Canada's aging population. The Council believes the suggestions for action outlined in this report, implemented with key partners and stakeholders, will initiate positive change.

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