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The Speak Out Forum was organized because it is increasingly clear that the unique needs of immigrant and refugee seniors are generally absent from the dialogue at policy tables, from the policy positions taken by advocacy groups and from studies conducted by most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Canada. It is recognized that seniors are not a homogeneous group, but only a few organizations and academics have registered their concerns about the well-being of immigrant and refugee seniors.

Including immigrant and refugee seniors in public policy

This discussion paper was written to provide some background information for the Calgary Immigrant and Refugee Seniors "Speak Out" Forum held on April 2, 2009.

It is known that immigrant seniors are a rapidly growing segment of Calgary's population. The immigrant population as a whole grew at a rate of 27.7 per cent between 2001 and 2006, in comparison with a 12.4 per cent increase among the Canadian-born population (Te Linde and Cook, September 2008). This growth rate will bring with it a significant increase in the population of seniors who are sponsored under the family reunification program to support their families.

It is also a well-known fact that immigrant seniors make a significant economic and social contribution to their families and communities and, in turn, to society as a whole.

  • They provide childcare and housekeeping assistance to support their families who are working hard to lead productive lives in a new country;
  • They volunteer in their own ethnocultural groups;
  • They actively try to learn English as a second language in order to participate in seniors' activities and to understand the cultural norms of their new homeland.
  • In order to stand on their own two feet and contribute economically to their households, some are employed in occupations requiring lower credentials than they acquired in their own countries.

Read the complete document: Including Immigrant and Refugee Seniors in Public Policy

Listening to Calgary's immigrant seniors

The objective of these proceedings is to provide a summary of the information presented and insights gained through the small group discussions with forum participants and policy makers. This document reflects the interest in the topic of immigrant and refugee seniors in Calgary and the common interests and concerns expressed by seniors themselves in the background information and at the event.

It also outlines opportunities for future action to address the needs expressed by immigrants and seniors.​​​​​​​​