FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has received the final report from the Premier's Panel on Seniors, Living Healthy, Aging Well.
"I am pleased to receive this report, and I thank the panel for its insightful direction," said Premier David Alward.
“The panel calls on all New Brunswickers to engage in a deep and meaningful conversation around the multidimensional issue of healthy aging and to work together to develop sustainable, innovative strategies.”
The provincial government created the five-member panel on Feb. 1 to develop a progressive Living Healthy, Aging Well Report for Seniors in New Brunswick.
John McLaughlin, president emeritus of the University of New Brunswick, chaired the panel, which carried out an in-depth study of the challenges and the opportunities facing New Brunswick's aging population during the next 10 years.
"Our aging population will be one of the defining public policy themes for the next decade and beyond,” said McLaughlin. “This dramatic demographic shift will present an unusually large number of complex and inter-related opportunities and challenges, which in turn will have a fundamental impact on the economic, social and cultural fabric of our province.”
The foundational principle in the report, "that New Brunswick be a place where aging is a positive experience because we value, respect and recognize the integral role older adults play in our families, in our communities and in our society”, is expected to guide future policy decisions of the provincial government.
The panel developed the document based on information it gathered through research and leading edge approaches on healthy aging as well as the findings from a recent summit sponsored by a coalition of organizations interested in aging.
The main recommendations challenge New Brunswickers to begin a dialogue directed at creating an environment that supports healthy aging through:
● life-long learning opportunities;
● age-friendly cities and communities, including an appropriate mix of housing options and transportation solutions;
● a caregiver support strategy to support individuals at risk of also requiring formalized services;
● a minimum standard of care and training for formal caregivers; and
● a consistent approach to end-of-life care.
Healthy and Inclusive Communities Minister Dorothy Shephard said the provincial government will take time to review the recommendations; co-ordinate government and community initiatives; and integrate a number of socially oriented policies, programs and services all targeted toward healthy aging. Shephard said the establishment of the department earlier this fall provides an additional opportunity to promote healthy living for the aging population.
As minister, she has the mandate to co-ordinate provincial government policies affecting the wellbeing of seniors and to partner with communities to ensure that policies will position New Brunswickers to age well and live in healthy way.
"The demographics in our province are changing and there needs to be a focus on the long-term health and wellbeing of all New Brunswickers," Shephard said. "In collaborating with our partners, we will work diligently to meet the needs and expectations of our growing population of seniors."