Author: Robert Roach

Seniors are generally regarded as a group with special needs and the social service system includes numerous programs that specifically target the elderly – from local non-profit agencies devoted to helping seniors, to discounts at stores, to national income support programs such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Canada’s social service system mobilizes a tremendous amount of social capital to assist seniors. As the population grows older, the parts of the system that assist seniors will experience a rise in demand. As a result, the per capita cost of assisting seniors will increase.

The need to reduce public expenditures has led to a number of changes to the social service system for seniors.
The statistics quoted in this report indicate that without government income support programs, a large number of seniors would have little or no income, would not have enough income to meet their basic needs, or, although able to get by on their own, would see their standard of living fall.

This report focuses on government programs and other relatively quantifiable aspects of attempts to meet the needs of the elderly. As a result, it presents the reasons why a more efficient, better co-ordinated, and less confusing system would likely reduce costs, increase accountability, and allow for better assessments of whether or not the system is achieving its goals.

The Safety Net and Seniors in Alberta is a part of the Social Services Project, which represents snapshots of the social services available in Alberta.