Overall, Canada’s towns and cities are seen to be easy places for older people to live.
Affordable housing for seniors is a challenge across the country.
Quality life for older people appears to be highest in BC, and among the oldest males in our sample.
When respondents are asked which ONE factor could improve life in their towns for older people, the most common response is “more home care services”, followed by a variety of municipal planning ideas.
Of the 17 Canadian cities with populations of 400,000 or more we studied, Peterborough is seen to have by far the highest CARP Age-Friendly Index™ score, followed by Winnipeg and Montreal.
Cities in the prairies score lowest (Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna), chiefly because of the lack of transit and pedestrian amenities.
Residents of the major cities score their towns higher than those who do not live in cities largely due to access to public transit.
The WHO Guidebook to Age-Friendly Cities lists a large number of attributes of a model age-friendly city. We have reduced those attributes to five key metrics:
• Ease of living overall
• Ease of using transit
• Ease of accessing affordable housing
• Ease of pedestrian access
* Ease of accessing health care and home care services
Respondents were asked to rate their cities or towns (or the closest town) for each of these attributes, on a four point semantic scale ranging from “very easy” to “not at all easy”.
Overall, three quarters of respondents (77%) say it is “very easy” or “easy” for older people to live in their towns, and just less than a third take the most positive position (very easy to live here – 30%). Overall satisfaction is highest in BC and among the oldest retired males.
Just more than half say that transit is easy to use in their town (55%), and few (13%) say it is “very easy to use”. Satisfaction with transit is higher in BC, among the oldest respondents and among retired males.Just more than half say that transit is easy to use in their town (55%), and few (13%) say it is “very easy to use”. Satisfaction with transit is higher in BC, among the oldest respondents and among retired males.
Affordable housing is a challenge, and just one quarter say it is easy to find (27%), including very few (4%) who say it is “very easy” to find. Satisfaction with affordable housing is higher in Quebec and among the oldest retired males.
Pedestrian amenities are ample, and more than half say it easy for older pedestrians to get around (59%), including just 10% who say it is “very easy”. Ease of pedestrian access is higher in BC and among older retired males.
Ease of access to home care and health care services is good, with two thirds saying it is easy (62%) and 10% saying “very easy to access”. Satisfaction with health care and home care services is higher in the Prairies and among older retired males.
Best Ideas For Age-Friendly Cities
When respondents are asked to pick the one idea that they think would make cities and towns more age friendly, the following list emerges:
More Home Care Services- 28%
“Age-Friendly” City Advisory Council- 17%
Outreach To Include Seniors In Activities- 13%
“Stop On Request” Bus Service- 10%
Longer Pedestrian Lights- 10%
More Public Washrooms- 9%
Access ramps on all public buildings- 4%
Increased Visibility Of Road Signs/Markings- 4%
More Public Seating- 3%
Opportunities To Volunteer- 2%
It is clear increased home care services wins this measure by a large margin followed by a range of municipal planning amenities, which would indicate personal services are more important to members than infrastructure.
CARP Age-Friendly Cities Index™
Respondents were asked five questions which touch on the key areas of concern spelled out in the WHO Guidebook to Age-Friendly Cities. These dealt with ease of:
• Overall life in respondent’s town
• Using transit
• Obtaining low-cost housing
• Being a pedestrian
• Accessing health care and home services
All respondents were asked to think of their town, or the nearest town, and relate these ease of use questions to “older people”. Questions used a four point semantic scale ranging from 4 equal to very easy to 1 equal to not at all easy.
To derive the CARP Age-Friendly Cities Index™, we subtract the bottom two negative responses from the top two positive responses to yield an index score on each attribute. Index scores are summed across attributes to yield a Total Index Score.
Included in the report are the Age-Friendly Indices for 17 major Canadian cities.
Note: Whereas the “All Cities” total corresponds to the total for all respondents who lived in one of the 18 cities listed in the poll.
“Total” corresponds to the total for everyone who answered the poll.
Peterborough, Winnipeg and Montreal score significantly higher than other cities for their ease of life, and this is primarily due to affordable housing. Victoria also receives a high score, but housing is more problematic there.
Affordable housing is a challenge in every city shown, except Peterborough and Montreal, and this brings average scores down. Calgary and Kelowna score significantly worse than other cities primarily for their lack of transit, affordable housing and pedestrian amenities.
Respondents in cities give higher scores for their homes than rural or town residents, primarily because of access to public transit.
More than 2300 CARP ActionOnline readers responded to the poll. The margin of error for a sample this size is plus or minus 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. That is, if you asked all readers of CARP ActionOnline who respond to surveys the identical questions, their responses would be within 2%, either up or down, of the results shown here, 95% of the time.
Keywords: seniors, housing, transit
For more information and poll results, read our full report here: Age Friendly Communities, 2009 Poll Report