Government of Canada to help alleviate social isolation through New Horizons for Seniors Program 2015-2016 Call for Proposals for Pan-Canadian Projects

March 27, 2015 – Gatineau, Quebec – Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), announced today that a call for proposals for pan-Canadian projects funded through the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) will be launched in mid-May 2015 and be open for six weeks. Successful projects will focus exclusively on addressing social isolation among seniors and will be funded between $150,000 and $750,000, over a period of up to three years.

Social isolation involves low quantity and quality of contact with others, the absence of social roles and the absence of mutually rewarding relationships. It can be triggered by certain events, such as the loss of a spouse, a change in income or an illness. Social isolation is associated with higher levels of depression and suicide in seniors. The risk of hospitalization is four to five times greater for socially isolated seniors. Social isolation can also leave seniors vulnerable to elder abuse, including financial abuse.

In their 2014 report, the National Seniors Council highlighted the importance of working with a wide array of organizations which deliver services and programs in an efficient and effective manner to alleviate isolation among older Canadians. Their report is available at

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is a national social innovation leader. For this call for proposals, the Government of Canada is partnering with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and its Innoweave initiative to support the development and implementation of innovative community-wide approaches to reduce social isolation among seniors.

In the upcoming call for proposals, priority will be given to innovative applications from communities that will use a coordinated approach to reducing the social isolation of seniors. This will likely result in successful applications being geographically grouped. These new partnerships will be multi-sectoral, involving the traditional and new players required to generate significant change.

For more information, please contact Employment and Social Development Canada at:

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is committed to supporting and promoting seniors’ health, well-being and contributions by encouraging them to stay active, engaged and informed.
  • Economic Action Plan 2014 increased funding for the NHSP by $5 million per year, for a total of $50 million provided to this program annually.
  • Since 2006, $2.8 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners.


“More Canadians are getting older and living longer. Our Government is committed to ensuring Canadians’ quality of life by taking action to eliminate the social isolation of seniors. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed now.”

– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

“The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation is pleased that its Innoweave initiative will be working with the Government of Canada and community partners to reduce social isolation for seniors. This is a pressing challenge that calls out for collaborative approaches to social innovation.”

– Stephen Huddart, President and CEO, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

“The National Seniors Council was pleased to have reported on the issue of the social isolation of seniors in 2013–2014, and we are delighted to be continuing our study in that regard. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Canadians to read our report, which is available at We welcome the response of the Government in announcing its intention to proceed with this initiative within the New Horizons for Seniors Program, in conjunction with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.”

– Dr. Andrew Wister, Chair, National Seniors Council

Associated Links

Canada’s Economic Action Plan

New Horizons for Seniors Program

National Seniors Council

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation


Justin Wood
Office of the Minister of State (Seniors)

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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The National Seniors Council

The National Seniors Council (NSC) advises on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, including the opportunities and challenges arising from a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse senior population.

  • The Council reports to the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of Employment and Social Development, to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, and to the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), who is responsible for the day‑to‑day operations of the Council.
  • NSC members include seniors, representatives of organizations who serve seniors and/or experts on seniors and aging.

The Government of Canada established the NSC in 2007 to provide advice on the overall well-being of seniors, both now and in the future.

New Horizons for Seniors Program

The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities. Through the NHSP, the Government of Canada encourages seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences to the benefit of others.

Community-based project funding supports activities that engage seniors and address one or more of the program’s five objectives: volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, social participation and capital assistance. These projects are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year per organization in grant funding.

Pan-Canadian projects focus on developing tools, resources and promising practices that can be adapted and shared across communities, regions or Canada. These projects may be eligible to receive up to $750,000 in funding for up to three years.

Pilot project funding provides support to help address seniors’ isolation by establishing better social support networks and resources and initiating community interventions. It also supports intergenerational learning projects that help seniors develop new interests and share their knowledge and experience with others. These pilot projects are receiving up to $100,000 in federal funding over a maximum of 24 months, 50 percent of which is being matched with funding from other sources.

For more information on the NHSP, visit

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Established in 1937, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s purpose is to enhance Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges. It does this this by developing, testing, and applying innovative approaches and solutions; by strengthening the community sector; and by collaborating with partners from various sectors – community, private, and public.

Some of the organization’s current areas of focus and emerging initiatives include: social finance and impact investing, sustainable food systems, indigenous-focused philanthropy and entrepreneurship in higher education.

Through an initiative called Innoweave, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation helps community organizations learn about, assess and implement different approaches to tackle social innovation. The initiative offers layers of support for organizations looking to understand, test and implement new approaches to help enhance their impact.


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