New Brunswick seniors represent 16% of our population. Over the next 20 years, Statistics Canada forecasts the province’s population will age faster than the rest of Canada. Baby Boomers reaching age 65, youth out-migration, declining birth rates and longer life expectancy are among the factors contributing to this growth. New Brunswick communities and the provincial government must determine how to better support New Brunswickers as they age.
In January 2017, the Council on Aging published their strategy, “We are all in this together: An Aging Strategy for New Brunswick”. This report set out 77 recommendations to make New Brunswick a better place for seniors to live.
Recommendations from the Council on Aging Strategy include:
– Implementing the New Brunswick Age-Friendly Recognition Program,
– Requiring new or renovated public infrastructure be designed using standards to make them age-friendly,
– Working with all sectors to create innovative housing models for seniors, including co-housing, intergenerational housing, senior friendly neighborhoods and portable rent supplement.
In the fall of 2017, three St. Thomas University Social Work students working from David Coon’s Constituency Office, also began considering the needs of seniors in the community. The group conducted in-depth interviews with 17 Fredericton seniors and asked, “How can we make Fredericton a more Age Friendly city?” They reported their findings to the City of Fredericton’s Age-Friendly Community Advisory Committee. The interviewees suggested:
– The Playhouse offer more discount rates and afternoon performances for seniors,
– The library create a message/events board specifically for seniors,
– Fredericton Transit reinstate stops at Stepping Stone Seniors Centre and Victory Meat Market, and implement a “Request a Stop” service to allow buses to stop outside of their normal bus route.
– The Fredericton Age-Friendly Community Advisory Committee apply for official Age Friendly City status (in consultation with the Moncton Seniors Advisory Committee).
It is important to build strategies and collect recommendations when considering policy changes. This work has been done and it is now time for action. New Brunswickers need the provincial implementation plan they were promised when the Council on Aging tabled their report last January. David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick will continue to push the government to produce this plan and to start making our communities more age-friendly.