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Results: 1 - 15 of 6850
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.
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