When communities attract and retain older residents in a diverse population mix, they gain the economic benefits as well as the social strengths of a mature population.  Understanding this helps to dispel common misconceptions about how Canada’s aging demographic will impact our health, social and economic systems.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recently released an article exploring the economic and social benefits of having seniors in your community.

In economic terms, municipal governments that attract and support older residents in an age-friendly community can realize a higher return on their investments. The benefits of an age-friendly community range from accessible and affordable housing and services to an inclusive social structure with strong community connections.

Building a population with a diverse age mix is an investment, not a cost.

Seniors benefit communities in the following ways.  Generally speaking:

  1. Older Canadians have more assets and less debt than the average population.
  2. Older Canadians spend significantly – and locally.
  3. They help communities balance demands on resources.
  4. Many support their extended family.
  5. Older Canadians contribute to their community.

One way to plan and leverage these assets in your local community is to develop a broad age-friendly action plan, much like the work that has been done by the Niagara Age-Friendly Community Network and lower-tier municipalities such as Welland/PelhamPort Colborne and Thorold. In addition, municipalities can help make their community age-friendly and attractive to mature residents by creating a concrete, well-thought-out housing strategy and action plan for an age-diverse population. Without suitable housing and services for all, municipalities risk losing the social backbone of their communities, as well as the key financial resources that older residents control.

Additional resources to support age-friendly community planning and aging in place strategies can be found below.

Aging in Place

Age-Friendly Communities

  • Grantmakers in Aging Case for Age-Friendly Communities presents research on how improvements to address the needs of an aging population brings benefits to the whole community.
  • Age-Friendly Niagara (Website) – This site describes the age-friendly planning and implementation work of the Niagara Age-Friendly Community Network
  • Age-Friendly Ontario (Website) – This site includes links to resources, learning events, funding opportunities and profiles of Ontario communities engaged in age-friendly planning and implementation
  • Public Health Agency of Canada Age-Friendly Communities (Website) – This resource page details Canada’s support for age-friendly programs, includes background and links to programs supported by provincial governments.


Arlene Etchen
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation

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