GNWT promises more support for seniors

GNWT promises more support for seniors
Barbara Hood, executive director of the NWT Seniors’ Society, says the GNWT’s new framework is a positive step towards addressing ageism.Photo: Barbara Hood.

Two days into the first-ever territorial recognition of June as Seniors’ Month, the GNWT announced a new framework last week promising improvements to the care of elders and seniors in the territory.

“Every day, seniors across the NWT make important contributions to their families, their friends and their communities,” Glen Abernethy, minister of Health and Social Services, stated in the legislature Monday as he tabled the new framework.

“Elders and seniors should be given the best care possible, and our government is committed to meeting their healthcare and social needs,” he said.

Titled Our Elders: Our Communities, the framework introduces seven broad measures to guide future programming and services, including working with communities, providing up to date information, finding best practices and supporting caregivers. Seniors are currently the fastest growing population in the NWT, rising more than 5 per cent each year over the past decade.

Several members of the territorial and Yellowknife seniors’ societies were present for the tabling of the new framework.

Barbara Hood, executive director of the NWT Seniors’ Society, said the framework affirms positive movement that has been going on for the past several years to reverse ageism and provide much-needed recognition to older adults.

“It’s not just in the North; ageist attitudes exist everywhere in the world where people see older people as being less valuable. Older adults become invisible to the rest of the community,” Hood said. “This new document is a continuation of the work within the government to recognize older adults and to give them the prominence in the communities that they deserve.”

Over a period of 31 years since its creation, the NWT society has led numerous projects focused on education and awareness of seniors issues.

A recent project has seen the distribution of a seniors’ information handbook with contact numbers for caregivers and services provided for every community in the NWT.

Hood said the society’s new focuses this year are on reducing the cost of living for seniors in the NWT and bridging the gap between seniors and youth.

With federal funding for the territorial society – a total $725,000 over three years – scheduled to dry up by March 2015 with no promise of renewal, Hood said programming may be “scaled down” for a while, but she does not believe they will be forced to scrap any initiatives.

“I don’t perceive that there is going to be a problem…I’m hopeful that the federal government will come up with another pot of money,” she said. “We will be able to continue with our GNWT money for a period of time at least.”

While the territory has marked Seniors’ Day and Seniors’ Week for around 30 years, this is the first year that the NWT has dedicated a full month to honouring its older population.

A number of communities across the territory are holding events throughout June in celebration of elders and seniors with barbecues, luncheons and open houses.

The GNWT will also mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. People are asked to wear purple to show their support.

For a list of Seniors’ Month events across the NWT, visit

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