Canada rings in October by paying tribute to seniors

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many Canadians are quite busy this time of year trying to keep up with work while at the same time preparing for the annual day of showing gratitude with their families. That being said, some may have failed to notice that Oct. 1 was National Seniors Day – a time for Canadians to pay tribute to those individuals over the age of 65 who have had an impact on them.

The number of seniors in Canada has risen sharply over the past few years. Between 2006 and 2011, the population increased by more than 14 percent, totaling approximately 5 million, making up approximately 15 percent of the population. Today, seniors represent an even greater share of the country's population, as there are 6 million who are older than 65 and 7 million when including those who are 60.

"National Seniors Day is a time for Canadians all across the country to stop and pay tribute to the special seniors in their lives," said Alice Wong, Minister of State for Seniors, in a press release from Employment and Social Development Canada. "So many seniors, including grandparents, parents, other family and friends, play such an important role in the lives of Canadians every day."

She added that the government will continue to provide seniors with all of the services they may need, not just because it's the right thing, but because they deserve it.

This past September, the government of Canada released a report regarding all the federal programs that seniors can access, as well as families or caregivers who may be providing for a senior parent or relative.

1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior by 2030
Canada's senior population is expected to increase rather significantly over the next 10 to 15 years. According to government estimates, seniors will total about 9.5 million, or about 24 percent of all Canadians. Additionally, life expectancy rates are not only increasing, but will continue to. By 2036, women's lifespan is likely to rise to 86.2 years from 84.2, with men's to 83 from 80.

Thanks to improving health and better awareness for how to improve well-being, many seniors keep themselves busy by staying in the employment world and exercising regularly, among other activities. For example, a recent poll from Statistics Canada found that 80 percent of seniors participate in at least one social activity on a monthly basis, more than one-third do volunteer work and 13 percent are still in the workforce.

At the same time, though, there are those seniors who, through no fault of their own, experience social isolation. The Ontario government is trying to prevent this from happening by helping seniors connect to their communities through the Seniors Community Grant Program. Thus far, it supports nearly 120 non-profit projects that enable seniors to keep themselves involved and in the know with what's going on where they live.

"Social isolation is something that is faced by many seniors in Ontario, especially in rural areas," said Mario Sergio, head of senior affairs for the provincial government. "Through the Seniors Community Grant Program we are helping seniors stay connected to their communities."

Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, added that Ontario is committed to ensuring that Ontario remains one of the best places in the world for retirement living. According to a report from Global AgeWatch, Canada ranks among the top five countries in the world for the overall well-being of seniors and in the top 10 for income security.

Within two years, it's estimated there will be a larger percentage of seniors in Canada than children 14 years of age and under, according to government estimates, which is unprecedented in the country's history.

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