Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Seniors


Victoria - Federal/Provincial/Territorial ministers responsible for seniors met today to plan collaborative approaches, across jurisdictions and a range of sectors, to position Canada to address the challenges associated with the demographics of an aging society.

The ministers concluded their meeting by affirming their commitment to bring seniors' perspectives and needs into consideration in all relevant legislative, policy, and program initiatives, and to continue to work cooperatively to this end.

Speaking on behalf of their colleagues, conference co-hosts Federal Minister Allan Rock and British Columbia Minister Penny Priddy noted that all ministers recognize seniors' past and continuing contributions to society. They called on all Canadians, in all communities, to join with ministers in celebrating the legacy we have received from the country's seniors.

Highlights of the ministers' discussion follow:

  1. International Year of Older Persons    

    With the United Nations designation of 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons, ministers announced the formation of a Canada Coordinating Committee to stimulate and coordinate activities in celebration of the year. Each jurisdiction will appoint a member to the committee and in addition, two co-chairs will be appointed by the ministers responsible for seniors.    

    Ministers stressed that community-based initiatives will be an integral part of the year. They also approved the theme for the year, Canada, a Society for all Ages, and called upon all Canadians to support the five key objectives:    


    • enhance understanding, harmony and mutual support across the generations;
    • increase recognition of seniors' contributions to their families, their communities and the country;
    • improve understanding by all Canadians of how individual and societal choices and decisions made today will affect individuals and our society in the future;
    • encourage all sectors of society to be responsive to a diverse and aging population in a rapidly changing world;
    • create the potential for aging-related products, technology and services.

    Ministers also unveiled for Canadians the international logo for the year, designed by the United Nations. The Canadian version of the logo includes Canada's theme and will be used on promotional materials. The ministers announced that the official national launch of the International Year of Older Persons would be October 1, 1998 to coincide with the International Day of Older Persons.    

    The federal government will underwrite the operating costs of the Canada Coordinating Committee and provide secretariat support. Provinces and territories will undertake various activities to highlight seniors and their contributions to society in conjunction with other jurisdictions.    

    Quebec reaffirmed that it will oversee all activities relating to the International Year of Older Persons within its jurisdiction and will sit as an observer on the Canadian Coordinating Committee. Quebec also invited the federal government to participate on Quebec's bureau for the international year and asked that federal efforts be channelled through this structure.    

  3. National Framework on Aging    

    Ministers approved further work on the development of the National Framework on Aging, an initiative endorsed at their 1996 meeting. Based on a vision and set of principles developed in collaboration with seniors across the country, the framework will facilitate the application of a "seniors lens" to government initiatives at all levels, with a view to ensuring that the perspectives and needs of seniors are considered. More specifically, ministers endorsed a guide as an aid to policy development entitled Principles of the National Framework on Aging: A Policy Guide.    

    Ministers approved the development of a national database of federal, provincial and territorial policies and programs for seniors. The database will contain information on health, social, housing and income-support programs and other services. This electronic inventory will assist each jurisdiction with program and policy development aimed at evaluating and improving services to Canadian seniors.    

    Quebec is not participating in the development of the National Framework on Aging, but will contribute to the creation of the database with a view to intergovernmental information sharing.    

  5. Safety and Security    

    Jurisdictions have been working to enhance safety and security of seniors through various mechanisms such as legislation, policies and programs. In recognition of the importance of safe communities for seniors, ministers will work to improve coordination and communication between governments and communities, and will collaborate with their colleagues in other sectors and with communities to develop a coordinated approach to support safe communities for seniors. Ministers recommended the establishment of a working group to identify concrete options to ensure the safety and security of seniors, in consultation with the National Advisory Council on Aging and other seniors' advisory groups.    

  7. Continuing Care    

    Ministers acknowledged the importance of community-based services and delivering services closer to home, to improve quality of life for seniors. They agreed to build on their successes in developing a variety of models of service delivery, ensuring highest quality service at the best price. This is consistent with the philosophy of providing the right service by the right person, in the right place at the right time. Ministers recongized that one of the challenges in implementing more community-based care is the pressure that care in the home can sometimes place on family members or other informal caregivers. Ministers agreed to pursue the exchange of information on initatives in their respective jurisdictions to further the development of high quality continuing care.    

  9. Palliative Care for Seniors    

    Ministers agreed to work with their health colleagues to raise awareness of issues pertaining to palliative care for seniors. The aim is to encourage seniors to review and express their preferences for care to health professionals, caregivers and family members. Also important is the need to communicate to seniors that they have choices for care and that they may refuse unwanted treatments. Ministers also agreed to work with other sectors in connection with education and information dissemination related to advance directives and the care needs of seniors in the last phase of life. A fact sheet for seniors on palliative care was prepared for ministers by the Canadian Palliative Care Association.    

  11. Supportive Housing    

    Ministers agreed on the importance of a strong and varied system of supportive housing for seniors. Ministers agreed to continue to share experiences and best practices in the provision and organization of housing options that will allow seniors to maintain their independence and dignity while receiving an appropriate level of support. Ministers agreed that the issue of supportive housing needs to continue to be addressed in each of their jurisdictions.    

  13. Next Meeting    

    Ministers agreed to meet in 1999 and have accepted the offer of Newfoundland and Labrador to host that meeting.


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Derek Kent
Office of Allan Rock
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-1515

Communications Branch
Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors
Province of British Columbia
(250) 952-1887