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Age-Friendly Communities

Canada's senior population is growing. This makes it more important than ever to support the health and well-being of older Canadians. This way, seniors can lead healthy and active lives and stay involved in their communities. Making communities "age-friendly" is believed to be one of the best ways to do this.

What is an age-friendly community?

In an age-friendly community, the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to help seniors "age actively." In other words, the community is set up to help seniors live safely, enjoy good health and stay involved.

For example, in an age-friendly community:

  • sidewalks are well lit and kept in good shape.
  • buildings have automatic door openers and elevators.
  • seniors take part in all sorts of community activities, such as visiting museums or libraries, taking courses or volunteering for charities or civic duties.

An age-friendly community:

  • recognizes that seniors have a wide range of skills and abilities.
  • understands and meets the age-related needs of seniors.
  • respects the decisions and lifestyle choices of seniors.
  • protects those seniors who are vulnerable.
  • recognizes that seniors have a lot to offer their community.
  • recognizes how important it is to include seniors in all areas of community life.

What does an age-friendly community look like?

In an age-friendly community:

  • outdoor areas and public buildings are pleasant, safe and accessible.Footnote *
  • housing is affordable, safe and well designed for seniors.
  • roads and walkways are accessibleFootnote * and kept in good shape.
  • public transportation is affordable and accessible.Footnote *
  • neighbourhoods are safe.
  • relationships are respectful.
  • health and community support services are available.
  • opportunities for seniors to be socially active exist.
  • seniors can take part in volunteer, political and employment positions.
  • information is easy to find and easy to understand.

What is the history of the Age-Friendly Communities initiative?

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Global Age-Friendly Cities Project. This project brought together cities from around the world that were interested in supporting healthy aging by becoming more age-friendly. These cities gathered information from seniors, senior-care providers and other groups and individuals with an interest in age-friendly communities. This information helped to identify eight key areas of community life in which communities can become more age-friendly. These areas are:

  • outdoor spaces and buildings
  • transportation
  • housing
  • social participation
  • respect and social inclusion
  • civic participation and employment
  • communication and information
  • community support and health services

Thirty-three cities took part in this project, including four Canadian cities: Saanich (BC), Portage la Prairie (MB), Sherbrooke (QC), and Halifax (NS). The document Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide External Link was published to share the reports of what makes a city age-friendly.

In 2007, the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities Initiative used the same method as the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Project but focused on Canadian communities with populations under 5,000. In total, ten communities across eight provinces participated. These communities were:

  • Alert Bay, BC
  • Lumby, BC
  • High Prairie, AB
  • Turtleford, SK
  • Gimli, MB
  • Bonnechere, ON
  • Port Hope Simpson, NL
  • Clarenville, NL
  • Alberton, PEI
  • Guysborough, NS

As a result of this initiative, in 2007 the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors endorsed the report Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide reflecting Canadian views and circumstances.

What is the Government of Canada's role in the Age-Friendly Communities Network ?

The Government of Canada, through the Public Health Agency of Canada and in partnership with the provinces and territories, has played a lead role in the development and promotion of the Age-Friendly Communities initiative across Canada.

As part of this initiative, the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network was created by the Agency, provinces and territories, and other key partners. Coordinated through the Agency, the Network allows community groups or individuals to exchange and share ideas, experiences, promising practices and resources with other community groups or individuals across the country who are also interested in making their communities more age-friendly.

The Government of Canada continues to encourage the uptake of the Age-Friendly Communities initiative across Canada to help make our communities better, safer and healthier places for Canadians to live and thrive as they age.

How can I join the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network?
Members of the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network receive age-friendly community-related information, such as:

  • publications, information and resources
  • promising practices for implementing the Age-Friendly Communities model
  • shared experiences from communities across Canada who are making their communities more age-friendly
  • invitations to free, interactive, online webinars (when available)

Enter your e-mail address to become a member of the
Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network

Your e-mail address will be used to send you information related to age-friendly communities.

By entering your e-mail address below, you are giving permission for PHAC to share your e-mail address with a reputable third-party who, at PHAC's request, will use it to coordinate webinar invitations. If you do not want your e-mail address shared with a third party, please DO NOT provide your e-mail address in the box below.

All individuals who have provided their e-mail address will be sent a Welcome to the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network! message. If you have already received a welcome message, you are already a member and there is no need for you to provide your e-mail address below.

Your e-mail address is personal information. You have the right to know how this information is being collected, used and stored. Before submitting your information, please read the privacy notice.

 

Which provinces and territories are promoting age-friendly community initiatives?

To date, eight provinces are promoting age-friendly community initiatives in Canada. Visit the Web sites of these provinces to find out what is being done:

Other provinces and territories are also interested in age-friendly community initiatives and are in various stages of development.

How can Canadian communities become more age-friendly?

Becoming an age-friendly community is an ongoing process. To help communities with this process, the Public Health Agency of Canada in collaboration with key partners developed the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones (Milestones). These milestones describe the steps a community needs to follow to successfully apply the Age-Friendly Communities model in Canada. They recognize that communities have different needs and available resources to take action in the eight areas of community life. By adopting a "milestones approach" that focuses on the process, communities can successfully become more age-friendly.

These are the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones:

  • Establish an advisory committee that includes the active engagement of older adults.
  • Secure a local municipal council resolution to actively support, promote and work towards becoming age-friendly.
  • Establish a robust and concrete plan of action that responds to the needs identified by older adults in the community.
  • Demonstrate commitment to action by publicly posting the action plan.
  • Commit to measuring activities, reviewing action plan outcomes and reporting on them publicly.

Age-Friendly Communities in Canada: Community Implementation Guide and Toolbox

How are Canadian communities recognized as being engaged in the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Milestones Process?

Where provincial/territorial recognition programs exist, communities that have demonstrated that they have met at least the first three age-friendly communities milestones can be recognized by their province or territory as officially on the road to becoming age-friendly.

Provinces or territories may seek additional recognition for their communities from the Public Health Agency of Canada. This pan-Canadian recognition from the Agency facilitates a connection to resources, tools and the Pan-Canadian Age-Friendly Communities Network. Recognition from the Agency would also facilitate entry for Canadian communities into the World Health Organization's Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities©.

For more information on making your community more age-friendly, please contact your provincial or territorial ministry responsible for seniors.

You can also visit the Web site of the World Health OrganizationExternal Link.

What information is available?

To learn more about age-friendly communities, take a look at the following publications.

Public Health Agency of Canada:

Others:


* What does accessible mean?
When something is accessible, this means it is easy to get to and can be used by everyone. This includes people who use assistive devices such as walkers and wheelchairs. It could also include people who have visual or hearing impairments. An example of an accessible intersection would be one with sloped curbs to allow wheelchairs to travel without difficulties. It could also include a cross walk with an audible signal. This way someone with a visual impairment will know when it is safe to cross the street. For more information about accessibility, please visit the Web site for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesExternal Link.