The Age-Friendly Societies Forum “Towards a World Adapted for Older Adults: Maintaining Quality of Life”

On May 1, 2018, the International Longevity Centre—Canada (ILC-Canada) and the University of Ottawa LIFE Research Institute (LRI) hosted The Age-Friendly Societies Forum “Towards a World Adapted for Older Adults: Maintaining Quality of Life” which attracted 107 participants from academia, government, NGOs, clinical advocacy groups and the private sector.

The objectives were:

(1) to identify the top issues to address four pillars, including age-friendly (A-F) health care, A-F homes, A-F retail and A-F air travel,

(2) to develop questions and actions that necessitate integrative approaches and

(3) to foster the development and continued collaboration of teams for research and policy change.         

The four pillars were chosen as the result of a similar Forum held in 2016 where health care, home care, air travel and retail were identified as key to improving the quality of life for older Canadians. A summary of the top issues in each of the four pillars as identified through grey and scientific literature was given to all attendees. This summary, along with keynote presentations on April 30, 2018 and panels on the morning of May 1, 2018 served as the basis for the outcome, namely, the identification of research questions and policy directions to pursue in collaborative teams.     


On April 30, 2018, ILC President Margaret Gillis and Dr. Linda Garcia, Director of the LRI opened the event and set the stage for the evening’s keynote speakers including: 

  • Dr. Hélène Perrault, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, speaking on the role researchers’ play in innovation, 
  • Jean Accius, Vice President, Independent Living/Long-Term Services and Supports, Public Policy Institute, AARP, speaking on the incredible impact of having ageless designs and a renewed look at the impact of engaging older individuals, and 
  • Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO, Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), speaking on the role of regulation in attaining innovative solutions that ensure age-friendly societies

On May 1, 2018, attendees heard experts’ points of view regarding the prevailing issues. Two panels were designed to include four participants each: two experts who rely on data to make decisions and two experts who gather data for decision-making or knowledge creation. The third and final panel was made up of two speakers including the Minister of Families.


   Aging: When is it about Aging? 

   - Dr. Linda Garcia, Founding Director, LIFE Research Institute  

   Advocating for Older People 

   - Margaret Gillis, President, International Longevity Centre - Canada



The first panel dealt with issues related to A-F health care and homes included:

  • Stephen Vail, Director of Health Policy, Canadian Medical Association, 
  • Jackie Cyr, Vice-President, Health and Center of Excellence,
  • Réseau Sélection, Brent Diverty, Vice-President Programs, Canadian Institute of Health Information, and 
  • Gloria Gutman, Vice President, ILC-Canada

The second panel dealt with issues related to A-F retail and air travel included:

  • Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer, Air Canada, 
  • Thomas Jelley, Vice-President, Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life, Sodexo Group 
  • Natasha Kuran, Manager, Aging and Seniors Unit/ Division of Aging, Seniors and Dementia, Public Health Agency of Canada,
  •  Michael Mulvey, LIFE Research Institute

The third and final panel stressed the importance of integrating policy-makers and researchers early in the process to develop solutions and data:

  • The Honourable Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and
  • Dr. Yves Joanette, Scientific Director of the Institute on Aging (Canadian Institute for Health Research) and Member and past Chair of the World Dementia Council


Capitalizing on the conversations and presentations of the morning and preceding evening, participants were assigned to discussion tables where 20 key areas for research were identified. The resulting research proposals will be available in a report which will be translated and released shortly. ILC Canada and the LRI will be following up over the summer to finalize research teams.