Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors

Message from Chair of the National Seniors Council

Since 2007, the National Seniors Council (NSC) has presented five reports to Ministers with advice on themes including low income among seniors, elder abuse, volunteerism, active aging, intergenerational relations, and labour force participation of older workers at risk. In each of the priority areas, the Council found that social isolation was consistently identified as a problem, risk factor, barrier or consequence experienced by many seniors.

In August 2013, the Minister of State (Seniors), the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada and the Minister of Health directed the NSC to consult with seniors and key players from the not-for-profit, public and private sectors to assess the repercussions and explore ways to prevent and/or reduce social isolation of seniors in Canada.

The Council welcomed the opportunity to build on its past work and to further examine ways to promote inclusion and engagement among seniors through an investigation of this pressing social issue against the backdrop of an increasingly aging population. The approach adopted by the NSC was to not only understand the causes and consequences of social isolation, but to also ascertain the ways in which an active and engaged population of seniors can benefit themselves, their communities, and society. The NSC gathered the views of seniors and stakeholders through regional roundtables, meetings with community representatives, and an online consultation, in conjunction with an extensive scoping review of literature from academic and non-academic sources. The results were further validated by means of a meeting of national level experts.

On behalf of the NSC, it is my pleasure to present Ministers with the Council’s report on the social isolation of seniors. The report provides a summary of the consultation findings, including most commonly mentioned risk as well as protective factors, and highlights a selection of innovative and promising practices. The report also contains the Council’s advice on the role that the Government of Canada could play to address the social isolation of seniors in Canada.

The NSC would like to take this opportunity to thank the seniors and organizations that participated in the consultation process and who provided invaluable insight into the lives of seniors who are disengaged or at risk of becoming isolated.


Andrew Wister, PhD
Chair, National Seniors Council

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