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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:37
I call this meeting to order and welcome you to meeting number 38 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website, which will always show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, the committee will continue its study on the impact of COVID-19 on seniors.
I'd like to welcome Dr. Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard from the National Seniors Council.
Dr. Blanchard, interpretation is available at this video conference. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of floor, English or French. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly, and when you're not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
You'll probably see me from time to time holding up one finger. That's not because I have something to say; it's to signal that there's one minute left in the turn of the person who's asking you a question.
Thank you so much for being with us, Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard.
Without further ado, you have the floor for your opening remarks for a five full minutes, if you need them.
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 15:38
Thank you Mr. Chair, and thank you to the members of the committee for your interest in the impact of COVID-19 on older adults.
On behalf of the members of the National Seniors Council, I want to provide our sincerest condolences to Canadians who have lost a parent or loved one during this pandemic, and our thoughts go out to family members who have been separated from their relatives in long-term care facilities for the past 13 or 14 months.
In addition to my role as chairperson of the National Seniors Council, I am a registered nurse, for the past 30 years, with experience in aging and community health, currently involved in vaccination efforts against COVID-19; a professor at the school of nursing at l'Université de Moncton, where I also hold a research chair in population aging from the Consortium national de formation en santé, studying aging in place and director of the centre on aging.
The National Seniors Council was created in 2007 to advise the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health, on matters related to health, well-being and quality of life of older adults. The council currently has 11 members, including me, who come from a wide variety of sectors related to aging, including academia, social and health sectors, community and front-line organizations and the private sector. In developing its advice to ministers, the council undertakes a range of activities, including commissioning research, consulting with older adults and stakeholders across the country and convening expert panels and round tables.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the council was in the process of implementing a three-year work plan covering 2018 to 2021. The work plan had four main priorities: first, identifying measures to reduce crimes and harms against seniors; second, examining potential objectives and elements of a national seniors strategy; third, developing an age-friendly healthy aging policy lens to potentially examine federal policy and initiatives; fourth, identifying measures to counteract ageism by shifting the public discourse on aging.
In 2019, in the context of a general public meeting and expert roundtable in Winnipeg, we addressed the priority of action to reduce crimes targeting seniors and financial harm to seniors. In addition, we released the “What We Heard” report, which is available on our website. However, I would like to make a few points that remain relevant to COVID‑19.
The council found that financial crimes and harms against seniors are perpetrated by different actors and assume a variety of forms, from romance scams to aggressive door-to-door sales. Of importance is that social isolation can be a key risk factor, as scammers often prey upon the loneliness of older adults who are isolated and in need of basic human contact. Poverty and economic insecurity can also make older adults more susceptible to certain scams.
You can understand that with social isolation having increased as a result of the pandemic, new frauds are being perpetrated against older adults. These include unsolicited calls claiming to be from a private company or from health care providers offering home self-testing kits or even vaccination for an upfront fee; and private companies selling fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent COVID-19.
When the pandemic began, the council quickly shifted its priorities to monitoring the pandemic situation of older adults. We immediately recognized that the pandemic was having, and was going to have, a disproportionate impact on older adults, and that studies were appearing to take stock of the situation from various perspectives, especially in relation to long-term care, but to a somewhat lesser extent, notions such as social isolation and older adults residing outside of long-term care facilities.
The council determined that to add value, it would provide high-level advice to ministers by reviewing research findings and the viewpoints of older adults and stakeholders, and by identifying values and principles to support the health and well-being of older adults. In response, and prior to the beginning of the second wave, the council prepared a report for ministers based on a review of over 40 reports regarding older adults and the pandemic. The report, entitled “Seniors Well-Being in Canada: Building on Lessons Learned from the Pandemic”, will soon be added to the council's website. If members of the committee would like to receive a copy, I'd certainly be happy to share it after this meeting.
The report suggests 22 actions, supported by conclusive data, as they relate to five main themes. Each action is further broken down into short, medium and long-term actions. Our advice to ministers has taken into account such fundamental elements as healthy aging and quality of life for seniors, the full continuum of care from home to nursing home, the negative impact of COVID‑19, and respect for federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions.
Since then, the council has continued working on the impacts of the pandemic on older adults, and has recently submitted advice to the ministers regarding the national long-term care standards, as these were included in the ministers' revised mandate letters and budget 2021. We continue to monitor the research that is being published related to the pandemic and older adults, and we will continue advising the ministers on this important issue. We are also in early discussions related to our next work plan.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you. I certainly look forward to our discussion.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:44
Thank you very much, Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard.
We will now begin with rounds of questions, starting with the Conservatives.
Mr. Vis, please go ahead for six minutes.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Dupuis-Blanchard, for being here today.
What really got me going when you first started speaking was the issue of phone scammers in conjunction with social isolation during the pandemic. My grandmother—my oma—who's 93, lives on her own and made a really good friend in Jamaica who talked to her about Jesus Christ and wanted her bank information. My oma was about to give it to him, had it not been for a family member who came into the house when the man called. They had numerous conversations over the phone. I will note that my oma has day-to-day care in her house through her grandchildren and children.
What can we do at the federal level to try to temper phone scamming? It is prevalent and almost ubiquitous, and it's only getting worse. Do you have any recommendations about how we can combat financial crimes that are taking place over the telephone?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 15:46
Thank you for that important question.
It is something that we looked at when we did our consultation in Winnipeg. We had national representation there from experts and whatnot. A lot of the recommendations that came forth, which would be related to what you just shared, are on creating a campaign to create awareness. We all think that people know about these scams, but I'm sure that if we think back, we ourselves, or others, have been involved in clicking on something or receiving a call and providing information that we probably shouldn't have.
We definitely need to create that awareness about being careful. Those efforts need to continue. Actually, the federal government has wonderful resources already available, but a lot of people don't know about them.
I have to say, even during that meeting of experts [Technical difficulty—Editor] we presented to the experts there some of the federal resources, and a lot of them were not even aware that those existed. One of those is “The Little Black Book of Scams”. It's been wonderfully done. It's been widely accepted by the people who do know about it, but we certainly have to continue facilitating or creating that awareness. Also, people do not know how to report it.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you. That's very, very helpful. We need to do a better job of promoting existing resources that are available.
You mentioned, as well, and we heard in our last panel on Tuesday, especially from the seniors advocate from the province of British Columbia, where I reside, that social isolation has led to even worse mental health outcomes for seniors during the pandemic.
Could you talk briefly about the role that civil society can play, and more importantly, family and friends? What can the federal government do to facilitate more interactions with seniors, maybe either through funding community groups or empowering people in the community who want to play a role helping seniors but don't know how to do it?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 15:48
Thank you again for another important topic, that of social isolation.
The council, previous to my involvement, also looked at social isolation. There's work on our website that dates from 2017. There were some consultations done previous to that report as well.
Some of the recommendations that the council made to the ministers at that time were, again, to increase public awareness about the importance of, but also the consequences of social isolation. It also went further, to say that we need to improve access to information on the programs and the services that are available in the local community. Some services are available, and activities, but a lot of seniors don't know about them. Until you're in a position to seek those services or activities to get you out of the house, you don't really pay attention to it. So we definitely have to facilitate that.
We all have a role to play in addressing social isolation. For me, that's where age-friendly communities come into play, as well as initiatives like the new horizons for seniors program, which I know you all know about. That plays an important role in bringing community programs and initiatives to seniors who are isolated as well.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you.
Mr. Chair, how much time do I have left?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:50
You have just under a minute.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Okay, I'm good. That was a great round.
Thank you.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:50
Thank you very much, Mr. Vis.
Next we have Mr. Turnbull, please, for six minutes.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-03 15:50
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to the witness, Ms. Dupuis-Blanchard.
It's great to have you here. Thanks for your testimony.
I want to go back to what Mr. Vis was talking about in relation to social isolation and loneliness. Certainly it's a concern. I am fully aware in my community of constituents in long-term care, but also seniors who are isolated at home for long periods of time. From your perspective, what are the health impacts that seniors have been experiencing as a result of this?
As an example, my mother has vascular dementia and has been isolated for almost 15 months in long-term care and I've seen a very significant decline in her overall physical health.
Could you comment on the health impacts of that?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 15:51
There are definitely some important health impacts of social isolation, be it in long-term care, like what you just shared, or for people in the community. I've seen it myself in my own projects on aging in place and the impact that social isolation is having on things like mobility, because people are not moving around as much as they used to. That really has an impact even on muscle loss and risk of falls.
There is an impact mentally as well. I'm thinking about dementia. I'm thinking mostly about those who would be maybe in the early stages of dementia and who haven't seen their extended families and whatnot. There's certainly going to be an impact when we start opening up again and when family members interact with older adults who have been isolated and who may have progressed in their loss of mobility or cognition.
These are important impacts on life and on trying to keep seniors independent as well. That's what it gets at. We want to make sure seniors remain as independent as possible in terms of mobility, meal preparation and socialization.
Also, socialization is so important. When we look at social isolation, the latest research talks about how it's almost like chain-smoking. The impact on a person's body is the same as smoking about 15 cigarettes a day. If we think about that in the context of COVID, then with everything else and the precautions and the stress of it, it certainly is something seniors are living now.
The effects on mental health, as well, will certainly have to be addressed as we think about post-pandemic times.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-03 15:53
Thank you for those comments. They're really appreciated.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:53
Mr. Turnbull, we now have Dr. Kuperman with us. I'm going to suggest that we suspend to do a sound check for him and then allow him to deliver his opening remarks. You are about halfway through your turn. If all goes well and Dr. Kuperman is ready to go, then you'll have three minutes when we come back.
We'll suspend while we do the sound check.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:54
Dr. Kuperman, you might have missed some of the preamble. I'll give you the condensed version.
Interpretation is available on the bottom of your screen. You have the choice of floor, English or French. Please close your microphone when you're not speaking, and speak slowly and clearly for the benefit of the interpreters. That's the Reader's Digest version.
Now we're going to resume with questions, beginning with Mr. Turnbull for three minutes.
Mr. Turnbull, you have the floor.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-03 15:55
Thank you.
I'll go to Mr. Kuperman. Thank you for being here. I suppose you probably caught the tail end—
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 15:55
Excuse me, Mr. Turnbull. I missed one very important step.
Dr. Kuperman has undoubtedly been working for days and days on his opening remarks, and I gave such a condensed version that I forgot to give him the floor.
Dr. Kuperman, you have five minutes for your opening remarks, and then Mr. Turnbull is going to ask some very interesting questions. You have the floor.
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 15:55
Thank you so much, Chair Casey. I appreciate being here, and I thank you for your patience.
I'm an associate professor at the Department of Linguistics and Languages at McMaster University, and I am a member of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging. I study two topics: the psychological and emotional well-being of seniors and the public discourse regarding seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will touch upon both topics today.
I use language as my data: media and social media, stories written by seniors, and messaging by federal and provincial authorities. The present testimony is based on my own work and existing international research.
Our studies of stories written by older adults show that the psychological fallout of COVID-19 on Canadian seniors has been profound. Linguistic analysis of the choice of words and topics pointed to signs of profound psychological distress among seniors. We saw an increasing use of language markers of pessimism, anxiety, fear and uncertainty. This evidence maps well onto the Canadian statistics of deteriorating mental health.
We set up a longitudinal study that uncovered the dynamics of the emotional toll that the pandemic took. Psychological well-being of seniors did not decline immediately after the global lockdown in March 2020. Rather, seniors showed emotional resilience to stress, which set off this decline by roughly four months, yet since August 2020 and up until now, the seniors have remained at the same deteriorated emotional state—the “new normal”. If the lockdown continues, our data predict that this state will worsen, leading to further loss of health and lives. Our analyses further confirmed robust findings that loneliness, social isolation and pre-pandemic health issues are the key determinants of psychological vulnerability.
What brings relief to seniors? Many participants in our studies mentioned the success of intergenerational online projects involving storytelling and story-sharing, a creative and therapeutically relevant form of communication, yet these projects leave out those seniors that may need them the most, that is, the ones without access or knowledge to engage in online communication. Unless caretakers provide training in the use of online tools of social engagement to such individuals, the digital divide will grow and social isolation exacerbate.
Given available data, I recommend to support further development of social engagement programs, especially those across generations; provide reliable Internet infrastructure and access to technology to all seniors; and, support education in digital literacy for seniors with the help of trained caretakers.
Another topic that looms large in my current research and the international research is the rise of ageism in the public discourse on the pandemic. This discriminatory sentiment is not new, but it has now been fuelled by the greater vulnerability that seniors show to COVID-19. Ageism surfaces in media as an undifferentiated portrayal of all seniors as frail, helpless or burdensome. This negative perspective can even find support in social policies if they are formulated in terms of age as a number, rather than talking about individuals and their situation. In its most radical form, ageism surfaces as blatant disregard for seniors’ lives. It is illustrated in social networks by an offensive, insulting label: #BoomerRemover.
Ageism is not a prevalent sentiment in social media, but it is persistent, so it strengthens negative stereotyping against seniors in all age groups. It has been widely reported to bias triaging decisions in health care delivery against seniors, as well as employment decisions. Seniors themselves absorb this negative public discourse as well. It adds to their daily stress, harms their cognitive functioning and undermines their self-esteem.
With these findings in mind, I recommend to support educational and public awareness programs about aging and its physiological, cognitive and emotional components. In official communication, including policies and public health messaging, I recommend avoiding an emphasis on age as a critical group variable. Instead, public messaging should target socio-economic or health-related characteristics of individuals.
Thank you for your attention. I'm looking forward to further discussion.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:00
Thank you, Dr. Kuperman.
Without further ado, for the remainder of his six-minute round, we have Mr. Turnbull.
I'll do my best not to interrupt you over the next three minutes, Mr. Turnbull. You have the floor.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-03 16:00
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
That was absolutely perfect, because the question I was going to ask you was basically answered in your opening remarks. Thank you for that. I have other questions that follow up on your opening remarks, so perhaps I'll get to dive a little further into the topic as a result.
You mentioned intergenerational programming as potentially a way to reduce social isolation and loneliness among seniors. You also talked about digital literacy and the divide that is perhaps there. I think we're all present to that. I know the new horizons for seniors program has at times, at least in my riding, focused on some of the programs that can be delivered in a virtual format during the pandemic.
Mr. Kuperman, could you expand on how we address digital literacy when dealing with seniors?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:01
We're talking about [Technical difficulty—Editor] that is the most detached from technology, and it's a sizable proportion. I think the estimate is that only about 75% of seniors age 65 and up have access to Internet in North America. This is a question of infrastructure and providing access, but it is also a question of who will teach them to use the technology and the tools. Indeed, great strides have already been made with the help of federal and provincial funding. I know several programs that do that. The one closest to me geographically is Cyber-Seniors.
I think it is through the support of caretakers, those who have physical access to seniors and can bring the technology and knowledge to them, that this will perhaps succeed the most.
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ryan Turnbull Profile
2021-06-03 16:02
Coming out of the pandemic, assuming we are, which I think we're all very hopeful for at this moment.... Certainly with vaccinations increasing across the country and case numbers going down in most areas of the country, I think perhaps we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is this sort of shadow pandemic of mental, physiological and emotional health and cognitive functioning, which you spoke to, within the seniors population, and I wonder how we begin to address that as we move forward. Do you have broad suggestions for us on what we can do to ensure that seniors' health, both physical and emotional, doesn't decline further?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:03
Be as brief as you can, please.
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:03
Briefly, the public awareness programs and the educational programs that I mentioned would be a very good partial solution. They need to be directed at the seniors and the population at large to make sure that awareness is there and that ageism does not proliferate.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:04
Thank you, Mr. Turnbull.
Ms. Chabot, you have the floor for six minutes.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses.
My question is for Ms. Dupuis‑Blanchard, president of the National Seniors Council, whom I welcome.
At the beginning of your remarks, you reminded us of the objective of the National Seniors Council. I'm looking at it myself right now: your role is to engage seniors, stakeholders, and experts in order to advise the government.
When it comes to engaging seniors, in what ways do you consult them?
I am asking you this because in Quebec, the mobilization of seniors has been very strong with regard to the impoverishment of seniors and their financial situation. Yes, the pandemic has hit hard, but it has also highlighted the impoverishment of our seniors. Yes, health and mental health issues must be considered, but the financial issue is also important.
In your recommendations and advice to government, do you address the issue of the impoverishment of seniors?
If so, do you recognize that seniors can find themselves in very precarious financial situations as early as age 65?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:05
Thank you, Ms. Chabot. This is a most important issue.
The mobilization role of the National Seniors Council can be interpreted in different ways.
The members of the council often come from different provinces, so we have a fairly national representation. All members are very close to the elders in their communities and engage with them in different ways. Often, my council colleagues bring back the experiences and stories of the seniors they consulted.
Of course, when we launch a consultation or hold a roundtable, for example, it allows us to reach out to certain groups of seniors. We recognize that the number of people we can engage is limited. However, we always make a strong effort to reach out to seniors so that their voices are heard.
I can speak from personal experience, although I know we are focusing on the council right now.
We are certainly well aware that there are seniors living in poverty or with low incomes. The council has done some work on elder crime and elder abuse. In that work, we have found that seniors with low incomes are often at risk.
In terms of my own work, our team in New Brunswick worked to develop a picture of the economic situation of seniors. We focused on the situation of francophone seniors in the province. Often, statistics show us that francophone seniors have a lower income than anglophone seniors because of their education. They have a lower level of education and hold more precarious or seasonal jobs. This results in their having a much lower income when they reach retirement age than their anglophone counterparts.
So my personal work converges with my work on the council. My colleagues on the council and I are always trying to get [Technical difficulty—Editor] and see what other sometimes underrepresented subgroups of seniors need to be part of our discussions and recommendations.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Dupuis‑Blanchard.
You know that the government decided to increase the old age security pension for people aged 75 and over, even though this pension is available to Canadian seniors starting at the age of 65. However, no evidence has been provided to explain why seniors aged 60 to 74 are excluded. As you just said, poverty has no age limit.
As part of your health care and financial studies, have you collected data by age group? For example, do you have data on seniors aged 60 to 70 and seniors aged 70 and over?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:09
I've collected some data as part of my personal work. I could send it to you if you're interested.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:09
Thank you, Ms. Chabot.
Next we are going to have Ms. Gazan, please, for six minutes.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
My first questions are for Madam Dupuis-Blanchard.
On ageism, seniors have paid the cost of poor planning and policy with their lives and well-being during this pandemic. I believe the pandemic very clearly exposed the role of ageism in Canada and how elders in our communities—not in all communities—are really quite devalued. It's very sad.
Can you tell us more about the role of ageism during the pandemic?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:10
Yes, certainly, and I agree with your comment about how sad [Technical difficulty—Editor]
Ageism certainly happens in the intersection of sexism as well and sexuality. It's not an isolated phenomenon that happens.
During the pandemic, what we've seen is often what we say is “compassionate ageism”. What I mean by this is that older adults have been portrayed as passive persons who should rely on someone else to receive care and support. We've portrayed them in that pity kind of way of looking at things. For sure, the pandemic's impact has been phenomenal and we can't deny that, but there is certainly a way to portray it that would not necessarily conduct to ageism.
As Dr. Kuperman said in his opening remarks, as soon as the pandemic was declared an older adult disease and something to be preoccupied by, on Twitter all of a sudden we saw the BoomerRemover hashtag and things like that. We've witnessed during the pandemic that ageism is certainly present, even in new ways that weren't there, like needing to take care of them, but they're so passive and they're not active, it's.... Yes.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
I totally agree with that analysis.
In response to that, do you have recommendations on how to create societies and systems that aren't ageist and to put those systems in place?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:12
It's a complex question. Certainly, at the National Seniors Council, we are just starting our work on ageism. It was one of our priorities in the last work plan and we are carrying that priority into our new workload as well, because we have ongoing work that's happening there.
As far as recommendations go, again, I think it's to have that link that we're able to apply and to look at new policies and programs and at our discourse, the vocabulary we use, and to be conscious of that: to understand what ageism is, first of all, and to be conscious of it. I would certainly say create a lot of awareness around it as well. A lot of people and even we gerontologists will say things sometimes, and we'll stop ourselves and say, “Oh, that was so ageist on my part to say that.” It's sort of part of that regular vocabulary we use, and all of a sudden you have to stop yourself and say that there's a better way to say that, that there's a positive way to say it as well.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Because I have a limited amount of time, I will ask about Canada Post and one of the programs that they wanted to offer needing to be supported by the federal government in regard to social isolation of seniors [Technical difficulty—Editor] while they're doing their postal routes.
I'm wondering, Mr. Kuperman, if you could speak to that.
Maybe you can add to it as well, Madam Dupuis-Blanchard.
I think it's a great idea. It's an idea that I certainly support. I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on it.
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:14
Yes, I think that would be a terrific initiative. Indeed, there are only a few professions, a few occupations, that get physical access to just about every locale, every house and every domicile in our country. Canada Post would be a great candidate for that.
I will just add to the entire discussion that, as a country, whatever we invest now in the public awareness programs or educational programs that fight ageism will be an investment that goes way beyond the end of the pandemic. The problem did not begin with COVID-19, and ageism unfortunately will not go away.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much.
Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, do you have anything to add about Canada Post?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:15
I think that would be a great idea. In my own work on aging in place, we've started to explore that. We have retired employees from Canada Post in our community, and they were telling us that we really should look into this because they know it would work. Even newspaper carriers who go door to door have an access that others do not have, as does anybody who goes door to door or does regular check-ins with older adults.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:15
Thank you, Ms. Gazan.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:15
Next, Mr. Tochor, please go ahead for five minutes.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, witnesses, for what you have shared today and for your work during the pandemic and the public service that you're doing representing an important segment of our population, which I think, especially during the first and second wave, was overlooked. Unfortunately, the pandemic has ravaged the senior population more than any other segment, whether in terms of actual direct effects of COVID or indirectly in suffering during the restrictions. I think as a country we should have bubble-wrapped our seniors and supported them a lot better than we have.
I'd like to hear from both of you whether you have individual stories about seniors who have passed away, unfortunately, from COVID and how the grieving process has changed during a pandemic and all the restrictions. Do you have any individual stories you'd like to share?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:17
I can share one personally, not from my own family but from research we did on caregivers who had a relative in long-term care who they hadn't been able to visit. We heard from a designated care person who was allowed to go in how difficult it was to not be able to have the full family support there. They recognized that their relative was at the end of life. That's already a difficult experience, with the grief and with preparing for that stage in life, but to be limited to doing it with only the staff there and maybe one additional person who was able to access the long-term care facility, for example, while the other family members either tried to be at the window or were just at a distance.... It's that lack of presence and that lack of humanness as well. That's what they were sharing with us. They said, “We knew mom was going to die and it's not that it was a surprise; it's the fact that she did it with only me and my sister there and that the others were just not being part of it.”
This caregiver said, “I actually feel privileged that I was the one to be there, because that's part of my grieving process”, but the other family members who weren't able to be there are living a very different grieving process, and it makes it very, very difficult.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Before we hear Victor's comments on this, have you heard of more seniors turning, unfortunately, to MAID? There have been media reports that seniors are just giving up. Getting vaccines into the province or into the country has been too slow. Have you heard of that?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:19
I've not heard of requesting or thinking about MAID, but I have certainly heard of seniors wanting to stop eating.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
That's unfortunate.
Victor.
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:19
I would just add one personal story. I have a friend who works in a long-term care facility. What she told me was that the seniors who were, unfortunately, in their terminal stages were trying to make arrangements to be on the first floor of that facility because that allows window access. They could see their loved ones. This makes a lot of difference for them. There's a sad aspect both, of course, for those who pass away and for their families. The grieving has multiplied.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
Victor, have you heard of, unfortunately, more people accessing MAID in some of your studies?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:20
I've not directly, but that is something I will definitely start paying attention to.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
I appreciate that.
I understand that you have a study coming out shortly on the loneliness and the aspects of mental health in seniors during these trying times.
Just quickly, have you heard of many seniors who are waiting to access surgical care or health care outside of COVID concerns?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:20
Yes. Health care and the health situation is a very common topic. It's the most prevalent topic in the linguistic analysis that we're conducting.
What we did not expect was how much health care outside of COVID-19 was being talked about. Delays, postponed surgeries and postponed care are very much at the forefront of seniors' minds.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
I'm very concerned about the health care system, because we know that a huge backlog of care needs to be provided. The provinces will be stretched to the limit once we're on the back end and we finally get enough second doses out there. There will be immense pressure on the health care sector.
Thank you again for the work you do.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:21
Thank you, Mr. Tochor.
Mr. Dong, you have five minutes, please.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Chair.
I want to thank the witnesses for coming to the committee today.
Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard, I have a quick follow-up on MP Tochor's question with regard to long-term care. After the release of the report by our military on project Laser, what kind of response or feedback did you receive from the NSC?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:22
I can certainly share reactions from the members. Of course, we were quite concerned. It certainly fed into the report we were preparing at that time on COVID and older adults. I can't say that we were fully surprised. I think many of us who have been in the sector of aging and long-term care for a while knew that conditions were deteriorating even before COVID. I think COVID highlighted some situations that were there and probably worsened other situations.
We remain concerned. We're talking about quality of life here, no matter where seniors live, be it in the community or in long-term care. When we see those [Technical difficulty—Editor] really fuelled some of our recommendations and the advice that we provided. That will be made public very soon.
So yes, definitely.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Did any recommendation on what the federal government can do going forward stand out for you?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:23
We always come back to the long-term care standards, to not only developing them but also making sure that they're able to be implemented. Make the conditions correct that they are able to be implemented. We know that it's an FPT matter and it's at different levels, but we definitely need to find a way to be able to develop long-term care standards and also implement them, which will be the most important part.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Professor Kuperman, do you have any comments or suggestions on this?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:24
Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with that report.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to talk about something that you are familiar with.
You mentioned that we know for a fact that seniors feel happier when they're aging at home with their family, community and neighbours. Can you tell us a little bit about what social isolation does to a senior's physical health?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:24
Yes. At some level, social isolation gives fewer reasons for a person to move. It's all about mobility. My work is mostly about social mobility and communication. This is about the drive to exercise, the drive to go out, to leave the bed, which is undermined if a person is isolated. They have fewer reasons to move in order to stay healthy.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have to share with you that in my family line, a few people at the end of of their lives were patients of dementia. Is there a direct or indirect link between social isolation and dementia?
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:25
What helps fight dementia is exercising the mind and the body. On the mind side, the fewer chances there are to communicate, to do intellectual work and to do cognitive training, the faster the dementia progresses. On the physical level, it's very similar too.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard, you talked about the new horizons program. We've seen $25,000 awarded to organizations like the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, Diversity 101 and Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island. The seniors who identify as a member of the LGBTQ2+ community faced different additional challenges during the pandemic. Do you have any views on what else the government can do to support them?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:26
Answer as concisely as possible, if you could, please.
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:26
Yes.
Maybe not precisely, but we certainly are aware that they are a group of seniors who are more at risk of social isolation, especially with COVID. Seniors who identify as LGBTQ often say that they go back in the closet when they reach a certain age. They feel that it's not as accepted. I think there's work to do around that.
View Han Dong Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:27
Thank you, Mr. Dong.
Ms. Chabot, you have the floor for two and a half minutes.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Dupuis‑Blanchard, a Coalition pour la dignité des aînés representative who met with us on Tuesday spoke about a possible solution for seniors. We know that seniors want to stay in their homes longer. This was true even before the pandemic. He told us that one way for the federal government to help directly would be to provide additional support to adapt homes or living quarters so that people can live more independently and remain in their homes.
Do you think that this would be a good solution?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:28
Yes, certainly. I often see in my personal work on home support that all aspects of housing are very important.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Quebec has passed legislation on the abuse of seniors and vulnerable adults. I had the pleasure of participating in the parliamentary commission on this issue. This legislation is quite [Technical difficulty—Editor]. I don't know whether this exists in the other provinces.
How can the federal government address these issues?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:29
These are often issues involving the law and crime. The authorities often tell us that the law doesn't protect them when they want to move forward with certain complaints received. I think that there could be a legislative review in this area.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Do you think that the federal government could improve or strengthen some current programs, rather than creating new ones?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:29
Yes, certainly. You're making an important point. The issue of abuse is addressed in various federal programs. I think that it's a matter of identifying them and combining them in order to make a range of support measures available.
View Louise Chabot Profile
BQ (QC)
Our committee's work seeks to paint a picture of the situation of seniors and vulnerable people. We want to know how they fared during the crisis. However, we're also thinking a great deal about the recovery.
In terms of isolation, we're hoping that the lifting of the lockdown and the vaccinations will help restore some normalcy. We're trying to determine how things look for the future and how we can directly help seniors navigate through life.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:30
Thank you, Ms. Chabot.
The last questions will be posed by Ms. Gazan, please.
Ms. Gazan, you have the next two and a half minutes.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much, Chair.
My last question is for Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, and perhaps Mr. Kuperman could respond to this one as well.
I'm wondering how you feel the government is doing in terms of mandating Canada's commitment to the implementation in Canada of healthy aging policies as set out by the World Health Organization. How are we doing in Canada with that?
I'll start with you, Madam Dupuis-Blanchard, and then follow up with Mr. Kuperman.
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:31
Thank you for that question.
The National Seniors Council is indirectly involved, I can say.
My understanding is that the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently working on how to best align with the Decade of Healthy Ageing. The Public Health Agency of Canada is part of the work that we do at the council, and there have been discussions and some back and forth on that. My understanding is that they are working on Canada's commitment to the Decade of Healthy Ageing.
Victor Kuperman
View Victor Kuperman Profile
Victor Kuperman
2021-06-03 16:31
I will add that from what we've seen in our studies of public messaging and federal messaging, the commitment is there, the alignment between federal policies and the broader context takes place.
That's what I can comment on.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
How critical do you think it is for us to move quickly on this, especially in light of COVID and what we found out during COVID, or what we already knew but was highlighted during COVID?
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
View Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard Profile
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard
2021-06-03 16:32
I think it aligns very well with some of the priorities that even the council is working on.
When we look at the components of the Decade of Healthy Ageing, it talks about healthy communities, about ageism, and many of these are issues that are currently discussed. I think it would be quite...I want to say “easy”, but it's never easy. However, it would certainly align with some of the priorities that are being discussed currently.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you so much.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:33
Thank you, Ms. Gazan.
Thank you to our witnesses today.
Dr. Kuperman, thanks for your patience in working through the new reality that is Zoom and technology.
To both of you, we very much appreciate the work that you do in your professional academic careers and your willingness to share that. It will be of great benefit to us in our work.
We appreciate the patient and comprehensive way you've handled all the questions. Thanks for being with us.
Colleagues, we're going to suspend for a couple of minutes to do the sound checks for the next panel.
To our witnesses, you're welcome to stay, but you're free to leave.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:38
I call the meeting back to order.
We have one witness who is besieged with technical problems, but Mr. Prud'homme is in a position to deliver the opening statement for Réseau FADOQ and Ms, Tassé‑Goodman will join us when that is possible. We don't have the leisure to extend the meeting today, so we're going to proceed.
We are continuing our study on the impact of COVID-19 on seniors.
The following comments are for the benefit of the witnesses.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you're ready to speak, you can click on the microphone icon to activate your mike. Interpretation is available at this meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of floor, English or French.
When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you aren't speaking, your microphone should be on mute.
I now want to welcome the witnesses to continue our discussion. They'll have five minutes to give their opening remarks. The committee members can then ask questions.
From the United Way of Canada, we have Debra Shime, vice-president of community initiatives.
I also want to welcome the representatives of the provincial secretariat of the Réseau FADOQ: Danis Prud'homme, director general, and Gisèle Tassé‑Goodman, president.
It's a pleasure to see you.
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
View Gisèle Tassé-Goodman Profile
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
2021-06-03 16:40
Good afternoon.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:40
We'll conduct a sound check with Ms. Tassé‑Goodman. Ms. Shime can then begin her presentation.
If we could, let's do a sound check for Ms. Tassé-Goodman, Madam Clerk.
Danielle Widmer
View Danielle Widmer Profile
Danielle Widmer
2021-06-03 16:41
Can you speak for a few seconds, Ms. Tassé‑Goodman?
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
View Gisèle Tassé-Goodman Profile
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
2021-06-03 16:41
Okay.
Good afternoon. Can you hear me properly?
Danielle Widmer
View Danielle Widmer Profile
Danielle Widmer
2021-06-03 16:41
Yes, that's fine.
Thank you, Ms. Tassé‑Goodman.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:41
We're going to start with Ms. Shime for five minutes, please.
You have the floor.
Debra Shime
View Debra Shime Profile
Debra Shime
2021-06-03 16:41
Good afternoon. Let me start by recognizing and thanking the committee and the government for the critical and important work you are doing to support people across Canada and to support the essential community services that are helping our families and communities.
United Way Centraide is Canada's largest funder of vital community services. We focus on eliminating poverty and ensuring vulnerable Canadians have the support they need to build sustainable livelihoods.
Each year United Way invests over $500 million to support over 3,500 organizations in over 5,000 communities across all provinces and territories. Of that, over $23 million is invested in specific seniors programs that help 330,000 people annually. In addition, we know that thousands of other seniors attend many other types of programs addressing such things as food security, disability services and general community well-being. With the support of our donors and corporate partners, we mobilized during the pandemic an additional $47 million, which aggregates both our initial investment in community and the government's investment.
In June 2020, with the support of the federal government through the new horizons for seniors program, we rapidly expanded funding to over 870 organizations that supported isolated seniors. These programs offered a total of 1.3 million services to over 700,000 vulnerable seniors during the pandemic. They were offered by a network of community agencies in every province and territory. These programs were enabled to reconfigure existing services to meet public health guidelines, expand existing services and support previously underserved areas. Over the course of the last year, we also funded over 5,200 community service programs through the emergency community services fund, of which 2,000 were services specifically for seniors.
To ensure that every person had access to services, with support from the federal government, we rapidly expanded our 211 navigation service to all regions of Canada so that every Canadian could get help finding the services in their community. The 211 service saw a staggering 39% increase in contacts over prior years. Many of those callers were and continue to be seniors or those seeking support for their [Technical difficulty—Editor] particularly vulnerable group. The extended shutdown of public activities affected the many community programs and services that those already vulnerable seniors relied on to combat isolation, build social networks, access culturally appropriate food, receive mental health support and stay active.
United Ways worked with municipalities, public health entities, foundations and front-line agencies to coordinate pandemic community responses. We collectively mobilized quickly around community response tables to problem solve such things as how to maintain Meals on Wheels deliveries, transition in-person contact to phone check-ins, assist seniors with prescription and grocery delivery and pivot seniors to online gatherings to maintain vital social connections.
Based on the context of each community, Centraides identified and responded to the needs of those who face barriers. Some of the barriers that we identified are living on a low income, being a member of a minority group or being over the age of 80. Those were identified as considerations of overall vulnerability. The most frequently funded programs were food and grocery support; outreach to prevent and address isolation, and hygiene and cleaning supports.
I'd like to leave you today with five key takeaways.
First, the last year has shown the level of innovation and agility that is possible within the community services sector. We do not want to lose that spirit of innovation and collaboration as we emerge from the pandemic.
Second, it is important to focus on the role that caretakers play as part of the continuum of care. It is an essential part of our response going forward that caretakers have the supports they need to keep seniors safe, secure and healthy at home.
Third, partnerships and collaborations have been the foundation of the innovation and response that we have seen over this past year. We can and should encourage collaboration and coordination between organizations, rather than foster competition. Seniors and their caregivers will be better off for it.
Fourth, we would be remiss to not mention the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of colour—Black, indigenous and South Asian specifically. Our efforts must double to address systemic racism and the barriers and inequities they create.
Finally, one of the lessons for funders is the need for flexibility. Local leadership knows what they need, and with the right supports they will find the right solutions. We expect that services are going to start costing more and that agencies will not be able to deliver the same level of services over the coming months. These organizations have stepped up during this crisis and they are under great stress. We need to help them maintain their operations.
The United Way Centraide network remains committed to supporting seniors as Canada emerges from the third wave and as we turn our attention towards building back better. If we want a strong and equitable recovery that supports healthy aging, we need to support the community-based and community-led organizations that support seniors where they live.
This is particularly true for seniors from the most marginalized communities, including Black and indigenous communities, and those living in vulnerable circumstances.
I am happy to speak further to any of these issues, as requested.
Thank you very much for your time and attention today.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:46
Thank you, Ms. Shime.
We'll now turn to Gisèle Tassé‑Goodman, president of the provincial secretariat of the Réseau FADOQ.
Welcome to the committee, Ms. Tassé‑Goodman. You have the floor for five minutes.
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
View Gisèle Tassé-Goodman Profile
Gisèle Tassé-Goodman
2021-06-03 16:47
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Parliamentarians, my name is Gisèle Tassé‑Goodman. I'm the president of the Réseau FADOQ. I'm joined by Danis Prud'homme, the director general of our organization. I want to thank the committee members for this invitation.
The Réseau FADOQ consists of a group of people aged 50 and over. The group has nearly 550,000 members. Each time that we take political action, we want to help improve the quality of life of seniors.
Sadly, seniors were the first victims of COVID‑19. The people who receive only old age security benefits and the guaranteed income supplement must live on less than $18,500 a year. It was hard enough to live on this income before. The onset of the health and social crisis exacerbated this financial distress, since prices for basic necessities increased. In addition, given the lockdown, many seniors temporarily lost their support network. This led to additional costs, especially for delivery services.
In the end, the government provided a one‑time payment to seniors who were struggling to make ends meet last summer. Obviously, the Réseau FADOQ would have preferred that the government speed up the implementation of the old age security increase promised in 2019. This improvement was ultimately announced in the latest federal budget. Any improvement is welcome. However, the Réseau FADOQ believes that people aged 65 to 74 should also benefit from it. The government must review this proposal to avoid creating two classes of seniors.
As president of the Réseau FADOQ, I must point out the elephant in the room. A great deal has been said about residential and long‑term care facilities. Many seniors have paid the price for a flawed health care system during this health and social crisis. In reality, the provinces are chronically underfunded by the federal government when it comes to health care.
Granted, some money has been provided during the current crisis and the latest federal budget proposes investments in long‑term care. However, this support is neither recurring nor proportional. Health care funding takes up 40% of provincial and territorial budgets, while the Canadian government funds only 22% of the spending.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, based on the current growth rate of the Canada health transfer, the federal share of health care funding will drop to less than 20% by 2026.
The Réseau FADOQ is asking the federal government to increase the indexing of the Canada health transfer by 6% each year, in other words, to its pre‑2017 level.
The Canada health transfer must also take into account the aging population of the provinces and territories.
The COVID‑19 crisis has exposed significant shortcomings in terms of financial literacy and the affordability of Internet services. This reality has left many seniors doubly isolated, both physically and virtually.
The Réseau FADOQ is actively working to strengthen digital literacy among its members through training workshops. This type of initiative deserves more government support.
Moreover, Internet service packages are very expensive and seniors have limited incomes. The federal government must improve competition among service providers so that more affordable Internet packages are available to everyone.
I want to thank the committee members for listening. Mr. Prud'homme will answer questions. However, I'll reserve the right to answer them as well.
Thank you.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:51
Thank you.
We will begin the first round of questions and answers.
Mr. Tochor, go ahead for six minutes.
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
I believe Brad is up on the schedule.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2021-06-03 16:51
Mr. Vis, please.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to both witnesses for appearing today.
Ms. Shime, on the fourth point you raised, you said that the impact of COVID-19 on communities of colour was disproportionately more impactful. You mentioned the South Asian community.
Can you explain what data you used to reach that conclusion, and how it impacted the South Asian community? I ask that because approximately 30% of the people I represent are of South Asian descent.
Debra Shime
View Debra Shime Profile
Debra Shime
2021-06-03 16:52
Thank you so much for the question.
In preparing our statement for today, we looked quite broadly at the communities that were adversely affected by COVID, and I would say that we know the South Asian community has been disproportionately affected overall in the pandemic, so we draw our conclusion from that. We're happy to provide you with some data and statistics following this meeting if that would be helpful for you.
I would say that one of the things we do know is that many from the South Asian community who are working in essential work also live with combined families, so they were putting their families, including elders, at risk when they were coming home from the jobs that allowed all of us to eat and to get our prescriptions delivered and to get our food delivery and Amazon delivery and things like that. I think that's just drawing conclusions from what we know of the community, but I'm happy to provide additional information.
View Brad Vis Profile
CPC (BC)
That's actually very helpful. I know there are two groups in my community, the Filipino community and the Punjabi community especially, who work in long-term care, and there were local instances, just as you described.
Was there anything particularly related to [Technical difficulty—Editor] impact in those communities, though, or was it just the fact that some of their family members who they're living with were taking COVID home because of the vulnerable situations they found themselves in while working?
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