Older adult plan - Overview

Older Adult Plan

According to the 2011 census, there are 116,600 seniors (65+) living in Ottawa, making up 13.2% of the population. It is expected that the number of seniors living in Ottawa will more than double over the next 20 years, to a projected 250,000 individuals. By 2031, more than one in five residents in Ottawa will be over 65.

Like many other large municipalities in Canada and around the world, the City of Ottawa is responding to these demographic changes and taking action to make Ottawa a more age-friendly city.

On October 28, 2015, City Council approved the Older Adult Plan 2015-2018, which supports a long-term vision for our community that values, empowers, and supports older persons and their quality of life. The Plan contains 51 actions to address the needs of Ottawa's older residents and is organized under eight age-friendly areas:

The Plan builds on the accomplishments of the Older Adult Plan 2012-2014. 


The Older Adult Plan represents the product of extensive background research and consultations with Ottawa older adults.

For more information about the Older Adult Plan or to obtain reports summarizing the research, demographic analysis and consultation findings, please email olderadults@ottawa.ca.

Older Adult Plan [ PDF - 3.1 MB ].


Outdoor Spaces and City Buildings

  • 18 City Facilities with high older adult traffic were retrofitted with additional automatic door openers and washroom grab bars. Retrofitted the Carlingwood library. • Updated and implemented the City’s Accessibility Design standards. Three new sections have been added since: Accessibility during Construction, Transit Stops and Shelter Design (see OAP Action 2.3), and Housing Visitability. 
  • 34 additional benches have been purchased and/or installed in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors. 
  • 12 additional intersections were installed with Pedestrian Signal Technology. Public Works has committed to installing 2 pedestrian signals each year using existing funding. A one-page information sheet was created to promote the safe use of pedestrian signal technology. 
  • The Pedestrian Safety Evaluation Program was developed to prioritize and program pedestrian related road safety improvements to signalized and non-signalized intersections within the City of Ottawa. 
  • A new Sidewalk Hazard Report Form was developed for older adults to report deficiencies in sidewalk conditions to the Road Services Branch. Deficiencies reported through this new form will be prioritized whenever possible. 
  • 55 additional Yellow Grit Boxes were implemented in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors. 
  • A checklist for Age Friendly Parks, Pathways and Public Spaces was developed and included as an appendix in the Park & Pathway Development Manual and posted on Ottawa.ca. 

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  • Changes in seniors’ fares were made in 2012 to make transportation more affordable for older adults, such as continued free-ride Wednesdays for persons 65+ and removal of the top-up needed for Para-Transpo users 65+ after 9am. • Age-friendly guidelines for the design and placement of bus stops and shelters were developed and will be reviewed for inclusion in the City of Ottawa Accessibility Design Standards. 
  • An operational review was completed regarding snow removal around bus shelters. New communication arrangements were made between Public Works and Transit Services to streamline snow removal around bus shelters. 
  • A technology review (to inform Para Transpo clients of their vehicle’s approximate arrival time) was completed and options are being reviewed by Transit Services staff. 
  • Consultation and a procedural review (related to advance booking) was completed and findings were reported to the Transit Commission and Council. 
  • 5 additional seniors’ agencies are now offering the travel training program. 
  • Funding for the Taxi Coupon Program was increased to $250,000 and approved by Transit Commission and Council in 2013. Information on changes to program was promoted at over 30 outreach events. 
  • An updated cycling map is in development in partnership with the NCC, City of Gatineau, Ottawa Tourism and Tourism Outaouais and will include the availability of Older Adult amenities such as washrooms. 
  • 12 awareness events on pathway etiquette and sidewalk cycling were held. A pathway etiquette sign was designed and was installed in 55 locations around the city. 
  • 200 Older adults attended a safety event called “Shifting Gears” held in September 2014.The event included presentations by the Ottawa Police, CAA, the Council on Aging, OC Transpo, the Ottawa Hospital and a local pharmacist. 

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  • Over 80 stakeholders attended an Affordable Housing Roundtable held in partnership with CMHC in November 2014.
  • 55 seniors and 19 seniors with disabilities have been assisted through the Ontario Renovates program to make renovations to their homes to increase accessibility. 
  • Software has been purchased and implemented to track data related to repair needs within social housing buildings. 
  • Information on accessibility has been distributed and will continue to be shared with all Domiciliary Hostel operators. 
  • Domiciliary Hostel standards are being reviewed to ensure alignment with the new provincial standards and will be presented to Council for approval in Q1 2015. 
  • 12 educational training sessions have been provided to staff to increase awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered older adults by The Ottawa Senior Pride Network. A poster project within the City’s Long Term Care Homes has been instituted, and regular agenda items at general staff meetings and Departmental meetings and been implemented. 
  • A survey on the needs of older adults who use emergency shelters was conducted.

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Communication and Information

  • Over 800 older residents attended 7 Meet Your City Services events.
  • 2,500 hits per month are received on an older adult portal on ottawa.ca which to serves as a central source of information 
  • 800 subscribers have received 25 newsletters about City of Ottawa programs, services, and events of interest to older adults through an older adult email distribution list. 
  • 6,500 copies of a City of Ottawa Guide to Services and Programs for Older Adults were created and distributed.
  • Developed a one pager on City Services for older adults living on a low income and distributed through City staff
  • Launched a new web application called JoinOttawa that provides a single location where older adults can view all recreation and leisure activities and programs provided by Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services, Ottawa Public Library, and seniors centres
  • Launched a new Volunteer Portal on ottawa.ca that provides older adults with a friendly way to search and select volunteering opportunities 
  • Piloted three satellite Client Service Centres (at two libraries and one recreation facility) that offered in-person and self-service access to information and services 
  • Prepared and launched updated knowledge articles and FAQs for client-facing 311 and Client Services Branch to assist older adults with searching on the web and applying for recreation and leisure activities and volunteer opportunities
  • Included an older adults lens in the corporate communication plan template 

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Social, Recreation, and Cultural Participation

  • 6 Ottawa Community Housing Aging in Place buildings and 31 community sites hosted Better Strength Better Balance prevention program sessions. In 2014, close to 700 older adults benefited from the Better Strength Better Balance workshops and provided a 97% satisfaction rate with the sessions. 
  • 1,111 older adults participated in a computer literacy and internet safety curriculum for older adults developed by the Ottawa Public Library. 5 additional laptops and 4 desktop computers were installed at 3 City-operated seniors’ centres and 3 community centres.
  • 20 part-time Parks Recreation and Culture staff completed a 2 day older adult certification course offered by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. One participant has been identified to participate in the Train the Trainer program to create further capacity within Parks Recreation and Culture staff. 
  • 4 editions of a social, recreational, and cultural activity guides targeting older adults (totalling 56,000 copies), were printed and distributed.

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Civic Participation and Volunteering

  • Developed a pamphlet to encourage volunteering among retiring City employees. The Learning Centre provides the pamphlets in the City of Ottawa employee retirement package at retirement planning sessions. 
  • Volunteer opportunities have been promoted at corporate Meet Your City Services events, volunteer fairs at library branches, and through the older adult email distribution list. 
  • A revised volunteer services website was developed and launched in December 2013. Changes to the website include an upgraded search function, and an online application. 
  • A Volunteer Recognition Program was developed and approved for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services. 
  • A survey of City of Ottawa older volunteers was conducted to determine the specific volunteer interests of this group of volunteers. Survey results were shared with all volunteer coordinators. 
  • Developed public engagement guidelines that include specific considerations for engaging with older adults (based on consultation findings and a focus group with older adults). 

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Community Support and Health Services

  • 443 households were served as part of the Snow Go Assist program in the winter of 2013-2014. 266 households participated in the Snow Go program which is an increase of 4.3% over 2012-2013 participation. 
  • 49 recipients were recognized as Snow Angels with a recognition event held in November 2014.
  • 5 additional community locations for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) programming were established.
  • A caregiver forum was held in 2012 and a Caregiver Resource Guide and e-learning module were developed.
  • 525 older adults participated, at 5 locations, in a new CPR training program (and train-the-trainer program) specifically designed for older adults 
  • 1,321 low income and vulnerable older adults have received free dental screening from Ottawa Public Health, Dental Services. Ottawa Public Health also provided 279 denture cleanings and 506 fluoride varnish applications in the community free of charge. 396 low income and vulnerable older adults also received free urgent dental care. 
  • 2,947 community members were trained to identify isolated older adults through the Community Connect program. Of that, 1620 were City staff, members of Ottawa Public Health and Fire Fighters. The Community Connect Program has received 349 referrals with 54% of referrals being for residents 65+. 
  • An older adult “well-being” screening tool was developed, in collaboration with various City departments, for use by staff who see clients in their homes to identify issues of concern and refer for additional supports; training of key staff will take place in March 2015 for implementation to begin May 1, 2015. 
  • A pilot program was developed to provide regular home visits by Paramedics to residents who made frequent calls for assistance. Program ended in September 2013 due to funding cuts by the LHIN. 
  • The process for applications across Community and Social Services and Parks, Recreation, and Culture City programs has been simplified by utilizing a common ‘Low-Income Cut-off’ test for financial assistance programs. A pilot project has been completed and full implementation is pending for referrals to be made directly from Community and Social Support Centres to the Hand in Hand program when applicants financially qualify and request a referral. 

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Respect and Social Inclusion

  • An Older Adult Staff Awareness Day was held on November 4, 2013 with approximately 100 City Managers and Supervisors attending. The event was designed to increase management’s awareness of Older Adult service issues as one step to improving client service satisfaction among older adults. 
  • The older adult terminology used across the corporation was reviewed and recommendations were endorsed by City Departments to harmonize terms and definitions.
  • Census data (2011) was reviewed and key highlights identified and summarized in various materials for distribution to City Departments.
  • A Seniors Roundtable was created to provide feed-back on the implementation of the Older Adult Plan and to bring forward priorities and issues for consideration.
  • A staff work group was created to coordinate the implementation of the Older Adult Plan and monitor emerging trends and issues.
  • Ottawa was designated as a member of the Global Network of Age Friendly Cities.

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