A number of things related to Age-Friendly Communities have been going on in Saskatchewan. For example:
- Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM) is working on a Creating Age- Friendly/Elder Abuse Free Communities project aimed at working with communities and creating Saskatchewan specific resources to encourage Age- Friendly in Saskatchewan. Creating communities that are safer, smarter, healthier, happier, more inclusive places for all people also reduces one of the significant factors that contributes to elder abuse – isolation. Age-friendly communities are places where everyone is respected and valued and therefore are places where elder abuse is less likely to happen. Our project focusses on rural, small urban and Aboriginal Communities.
- In Saskatoon, Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) has taken the lead in bringing stakeholders together to work on Age-Friendly Saskatoon.
- In Regina, the Lifelong Learning Centre (LLC) and Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) have been working on various Age-Friendly initiatives.
- The Fédération des aînés Fransaskois (FAF) is working on Age-Friendly initiatives in Saskatchewan’s francophone communities.
With these and other related projects and research happening around the province, this seemed like the opportune time to launch Age-Friendly Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM) is taking the lead in this initiative. SSM has held meetings with SUMA, SARM, SCOA, LLC, FAF, RQHR and Community Care Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to discuss ways to make Age-Friendly Saskatchewan a reality.
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Global Age-Friendly Cities Project.This project brought together cities from around the world that were interested in supporting healthy aging by becoming more age-friendly. These cities gathered information from seniors, senior-care providers and other groups and individuals with an interest in age-friendly communities. This information helped to identify eight key areas of community life in which communities can become more age-friendly. These areas are:
- outdoor spaces and buildings
- social participation
- respect and social inclusion
- civic participation and employment
- communication and information
- community support and health services
Thirty-three cities took part in this project, including four Canadian cities: Saanich (BC), Portage la Prairie (MB), Sherbrooke (QC), and Halifax (NS).
In 2007, the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities Initiative used the same method as the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Project but focused on Canadian communities with populations under 5,000. In total, ten communities across eight provinces participated. These communities were:
- Alert Bay, BC
- Lumby, BC
- High Prairie, AB
- Turtleford, SK
- Gimli, MB
- Bonnechere, ON
- Clarenville, NL
- Port Hope Simpson, NL
- Alberton, PEI
- Guysborough, NS
As a result of this initiative, in 2007 the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors endorsed the report Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide reflecting Canadian views and circumstances.
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) leads the Age-Friendly Communities initiative nationally which defines itself thus:
“The Age-Friendly Communities project seeks to engage older Canadians and their communities in making their communities better, healthier and safer places for seniors to live and thrive. In an age-friendly community, policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable older people to "age actively" – that is, to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.”