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National view on Demographic Change
The government of Canada is committed to supporting seniors in living healthy, active and independent lives. In 2035, Canada will join the ranks of the super-aged countries, i.e. more than 30% of the population over the age of 60. In recent years, the number of Canadians aged 60 and over surpassed the number of those aged 15 and under. In addition, the number of the “oldest old” (those aged 85 and over), particularly the centenarians, is booming as never before. The overall life expectancy has now reached 83 years for women and 79 years for men, and the healthy life expectancy in Canada has increased as well, but not at the same pace. More than 30% of Canadians aged 85 and over have three or more chronic diseases, which places an immense pressure on Canada’s health care systems, particularly in a context where Canadians are working later in life and wish to age at home. By far, the most feared health condition in aging is dementia, and the rapidly increasing number of cases of dementia in Canada results in significant financial costs and puts a growing burden on carers and families. Canada as a nation is comprised of several levels of government including federal, provincial/territories, and municipal, each of which has its specific role to play in contributing to programs, research and policies related to the health of seniors.
Country representation in JPI MYBL
The government of Canada is investing in research to promote senior’s health and well-being. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the government of Canada’s research funding agency, between the fiscal years of 2011-12 and 2015-16, CIHR invested over $517 million to support research on aging, including over $88 million in 2015-16 alone. The supported research includes topics related to mobility in aging, late life issues and palliative care, age-friendly communities, and technological innovations.
National databases and strategic documents
Due to the multijurisdictional nature of Canada, challenges vary from region to region. Provinces/territories and municipalities often must respond to immediate pressures that may not always align with federal priorities and strategic directions.
Activities related to seniors are coordinated through several federal and provincial departments and agencies in Canada. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) is part of the health portfolio which supports the Minister of Health in maintaining and improving the health of Canadians. As one of CIHR’s thirteen institutes, the CIHR Institute of Aging (IA) is a national leader in addressing health research priorities for seniors. IA initiatives not only link and support researchers located in universities and hospitals across the country, but also bring together different levels of government, practitioners, voluntary health organizations and seniors themselves. The fundamental goal of IA is the advancement of knowledge in the field of aging to improve the quality of life and the health of older Canadians.The Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) reports to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. ESDC convenes an Interdepartmental Committee on Seniors. This group meets on a monthly basis and includes representation from over 20 federal departments and agencies (including CIHR). This forum for sharing information on various programs and initiatives related to seniors, includes, but is not limited to health, housing, income security, social inclusion and transportation.
In 2012, the CIHR Institute of Aging conducted wide-reaching consultations with stakeholders both across Canada and internationally. The Speaking of Aging tour covered 16 Canadian cities, where the Institute met with over 600 people representing not only researchers and trainees from various fields, but also with partners, policy makers and the general public. These stakeholders identified a number of research needs, with the greatest emphasis being on access to aging in place. Inspired by this tour, the Institute of Aging is leading a number of strategic investments to support research in some crucial areas related to this topic.The CIHR Institute of Aging also acts as national convenor. This role involves bringing government stakeholders, the research community, partners, patients, and population- and community-based groups together, among others. Examples of the Institute’s convenor role during the past year include:
• A proactive presence at all large Canadian meetings on aging, including annual meetings of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, the Canadian Geriatrics Society, and the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry, at which workshops and special sessions were organized for researchers and trainees.The coordination and chairing of bi-annual meetings of all of the Directors of the Canadian Research Centres on Aging, in order to exchange on the latest initiatives and be informed of the current challenges facing early career and established investigators.The planning and coordination of “Canadian Pavilions” at International conferences, such as the Gerontological Society of America Annual Meeting and the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, in order to provide a venue for interaction and enhance the visibility of Canadian stakeholders in an international forum.
• The coordination of meetings of stakeholders in the field of aging and cognition (Cognitive Impairment in Aging Partnership) in order to exchange and to explore potential partnerships in the area of dementia. A strong international presence, in aging as well as in dementia, maintained by regular contact with the staff of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Department of Aging and in the Department of Mental Health and Dementia.
• The federal government also works with its provinces to ensure the health and well-being of seniors, for instance, in 2017, the government of Canada agreed to provide the provinces with $6 billion over 10 years to improve home and palliative care, including $1 billion for critical care infrastructure. CIHR regularly liaises with its counterpart provincial health research funders, collectively referred to as the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations (NAPHRO).