When we talk about our aging population, discussion often turns to health. The need for home care and long-term care. What government is or should be doing and whether it is enough.
Our government has been investing millions of more dollars in home care and expanding access to caregiver benefits because Nova Scotians tell us they want to stay in their homes as long as possible. We also know long-term care will be required for some which is why we have increased funding for long-term care facilities across the province and cut the waitlist in half.
The new investments include improvements or upgrades, replacing long-term care facilities and adding new beds. There is more work to do but we are continuing to work hard to improve health care services.
However, as Minister of Seniors, one of my objectives has been to change the way people think about aging. I have met so many older Nova Scotians in communities across our province who are active, healthy and engaged. I have seen how they continue to contribute to our communities and our economy. With the demographic shift, comes even more opportunity to tap into this wealth of experience and expertise.
More than a quarter of our population is expected to be over the age of 65 by 2030. This should not be looked at as a burden, rather an opportunity. That has been the focus of SHIFT: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population which government launched in 2017. We recognize and value the contributions older Nova Scotians have made and know they have so much more to offer. Through SHIFT, we are encouraging volunteerism, entrepreneurship, we are working to create age-friendly communities, expand community transit, increase funding for home repairs and home accommodations and expand home care.
We are embracing the experience and expertise our older Nova Scotians have to offer. They are community leaders, entrepreneurs, volunteers and mentors. They are the backbone of our communities and have the experience and knowledge to continue making our workplaces and communities even stronger.
Did you know 44 per cent of older Nova Scotians volunteer and they often volunteer more hours than most other age groups? Also, 25 per cent of people aged 65-69 are still in the workforce and 25 per cent of them are self-employed entrepreneurs.
We have made considerable progress since the action plan was launched in 2017. From supporting senior entrepreneurs, retaining older workers, supporting more housing options, helping people stay healthy, improving accessibility and combating social isolation, we are tapping into all the benefits of an aging population provides.
So rather than focusing on the challenges that come with aging, I encourage all of us to celebrate those who have come before us and recognize and embrace all the knowledge and expertise they have. By doing so, we will create an even stronger, more vibrant province.
Minister of Seniors
Government of Nova Scotia