Chinese Canadian seniors left behind as many Chinese-language newspapers stop printing

Of interest:

As the world came to a standstill two years ago, they sat unread on dusty newsstands in empty restaurants and grocery stores.

Chinese-language newspapers, vital to the community, became largely inaccessible during the pandemic as people were restricted from visiting the places where they were distributed.

It’s part of why Canada’s largest Chinese-language daily newspaper, Sing Tao Daily, has stopped printing across the country. After 44 years of circulating in Canada, its last publication date is on Saturday.

“The Chinese newspaper is really, really important to a lot of my members, seniors,” said Liza Chan, executive director of the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association. “It’s a big hit to Calgary.”

It’s a trend throughout Canada’s Chinese media landscape.

In Calgary, a number of other Chinese-language newspapers stopped printing due to impacts from the pandemic, leaving just one locally-printed newspaper to inform the Chinese community — especially seniors who don’t typically get their news online.

Pandemic changed readership patterns 

Originating in Hong Kong, Sing Tao Daily was  distributed throughout Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. The daily newspaper stopped circulating in Calgary in 2016, but its weekly publications — Canadian City Post and Sing Tao Cosmopolitan — are also ending their physical editions on Saturday.

While some Sing Tao readership returned after restrictions were lifted, Wong says it didn’t bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, which were already declining.

“We are noticing the change of the public in consuming their daily information and news,” said Wong. “We think that it is the right timing to change and move on to a new phase.”

It’s the same situation for Trend Media, formerly known as Trend Weekly. It used to be a free weekly magazine before it stopped printing and transitioned completely to an online platform in August.

“With the pandemic, more people in some ways are relying on information online right now. So less and less people are really paying much attention to the printed copies,” said publisher Danny Chan.

Chan says the high costs of printing were also a major factor, especially with a reduction in readers. He says all of the publication’s income would go to printing.

“I think the newspaper printing business is going all the way downhill right now because we can hardly make enough money to cover the printing costs,” he said.

He was also seeing a decrease in willing advertisers — the publication’s main revenue source. Most advertisers target readers under the age of 50 and now spend their money on online promotions, says Chan.

“Most of the readers of the paper publication are elderly. They don’t have that kind of spending power.”

Both Trend Media and Sing Tao will continue to publish e-books online. 

Other local newspapers in Calgary, such as Oriental Weekly, mention on their websites that they stopped printing indefinitely during the pandemic.

Chinese seniors left behind

As much of the world shifted online during the pandemic, Wong says seniors have become more technologically savvy and can learn how to find the news online.

But Liza Chan says that isn’t the case with the seniors she works with at the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association.

“There’s still a lot of seniors [who are] not able to access a computer or don’t have the ability to do it,” she said.

She says routine is important for seniors, and reading the Chinese newspaper each week is a big part of their routines — namely, Sing Tao’s weekly publications and Trend Weekly. But now, those are no longer an option.

A couple of other international newspapers are still distributed in Calgary, including Vision Times and Epoch Times, but there’s now only one locally printed Chinese newspaper in Calgary that seniors can rely on.

It’s limiting for seniors, says Chan, because that one option is in higher demand.

“When you have three different kinds, you can still get one maybe out of the three. But now you might not get any,” she said.

Last locally printed Chinese newspaper

The Canadian Chinese Times was the first local Chinese-language newspaper created in Calgary, back in 1981. Now, it’s the last one standing.

“It’s sad, actually,” said Jake Louie, publisher of the Canadian Chinese Times. “We don’t mind competition at all because that will give readers and the community more choices.”

“Now, we’re the only one left. So it’s kind of a feeling of loneliness, you know, in a way.”

The weekly newspaper, published on Thursdays, is targeted toward Chinese seniors and new immigrants who want to learn about the Canadian way of life and stay informed about what’s going on in Calgary.

About 12,000 copies are printed each week and distributed to more than 60 locations throughout the city. As the last Chinese newspaper standing, Louie says demand has soared.

“Our paper is going like hotcakes,” said Louie.

He says they once considered shifting to an online-only platform due to soaring printing costs and a decrease in advertisements. But when they asked readers their thoughts, the feedback was almost unanimous.

“‘No, I don’t know how to go online and I don’t have a computer. We really need physical printing papers so that we can get the information there.'”

Tony Wong, president of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, says Chinese newspapers play an important role in the community’s daily lives.

Reading the newspaper with his family every Thursday and Friday has become a ritual, he says. Not only does it help him stay informed about events in the community, but his wife searches advertisements for the best promotions and sales to share with her sisters.

That didn’t change during the pandemic. Instead, in the early days, his wife would make sure he wore gloves to pick up the newspaper. She would also spray his hands and the paper with disinfectant.

“I just pray that the Canadian Chinese Times will remain in print for many years to come. Otherwise, a lot of our lives will be in jeopardy,” he said.

Chan says she hopes the Canadian Chinese Times will consider printing more copies as demand increases so no Chinese Calgarians lose touch with the community.

Source: Chinese Canadian seniors left behind as many Chinese-language newspapers stop printing

Culturally focused dementia care needed for Canada’s senior immigrants, researchers say

A reminder that immigrants also age and thus do not do much, if anything, to address longer-term demographics. Striking that immigrants now form almost one-third of all seniors (earlier waves) and thus not surprising that more supports needed (e.g., language, foods):

It all began when Navjot Gill’s grandmother started to mistake her for her aunt.

That’s what happens when you get older, said Gill’s family, but as time went on, it happened more often.

As a student studying dementia, Gill, who lives with her family in Hamilton, Ont., knew it wasn’t that simple — something more was going on and it was going to be hard on everyone.

For South Asian families, it’s understood that family takes care of its own. And it’s not uncommon for many to assume, said Gill, that when an elder first encounters symptoms of dementia, it’s just a normal part of aging — denial that is often driven by a lack of awareness and cultural stigma.

There’s no word for dementia in Gill’s mother tongue, Punjabi, and most of the resources she could find to share with her parents were in English and not culturally specific.

“I’m engaged in dementia research, I know these things, and even I’m not able to fully [explain it],” said Gill, who is 27 and now working on her PhD at the University of Waterloo. “It took a while to come to the point of this is not a normal part of aging … dementia is something that is outside the realm of normal.”

Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms, including memory loss and difficulty performing tasks, caused by disorders affecting the brain. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, with risk of developing the disease growing as people age.

Canada’s senior immigrant population now makes up over a third of the overall population of older people, and that has Gill and other advocates calling for more culturally appropriate care and dedicated dementia research to serve these individuals as they enter long-term care homes — to make the transition easier on the entire family.

Ngozi Iroanyah went through a similar experience when her father was diagnosed with dementia in 2007.

“My community is Nigerian and we also don’t talk about dementia, we don’t talk about seniors’ mental health. It’s heavily, heavily stigmatized,” she said.

Iroanyah said stigmatization can lead to isolation and discourage families from seeking the right treatments.

Having worked in health care for over two decades, and as manager of diversity and community partnerships with the Alzheimer Society of Canada, she knew what the next steps were, and even then, it was a “minefield,” she said.

“Then when you add the cultural piece on top of that, it was even more so: What do we do? What do we need? Where can we go? What are the supports? And there weren’t any supports,” said Iroanyah.

Supporting the older immigrant population

Organizations like the Alzheimer Society and the Research Institute for Aging recognize more work is needed to better understand and support the diverse needs of older adults with dementia.

Canada’s senior immigrant population is growing. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, senior immigrants represented 31 per cent of the total senior population over age 65.  Asia and Africa were among the top continents that sought immigration to Canada.

The Alzheimer Society estimates 500,000 people are living with dementia, a figure that is estimated to grow to 912,000 by 2030.

“Because we have an aging population that is more culturally, ethnically diverse and racially diverse, are we prepared in Canada? We see that our younger population is not increasing as plentiful, so who is going to be taking care of these older populations?” said Iroanyah.

She said the Alzhiemer Society is developing more education and awareness resources for culturally diverse groups and their caregivers, as well as other groups that are underrepresented in dementia research, including the LGTBTQ population and rural communities.

A BIPOC research program is also expected to launch this year, Iroanyah added, to support researchers who want to better understand the impacts of dementia within BIPOC populations.

“We need statistics, we need data and numbers to be able to understand what is happening, to be able to understand what these experiences are, and to be able to understand what the need is,” she said.

Specialized care programs uncommon

Finding culturally specific care and programs for Gill’s grandmother became an impossible task, she said. Nowhere could she find a place that would feel familiar.

“At one point I was looking at nursing homes, just to see, and there is no way my grandmum would be able to survive in that [environment] because everything would be alien to her,” she said, from language, to activities — even the food.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care said in a statement that the province “realizes the importance of homes providing culturally specific services to meet the needs of their residents,” and though individual homes may choose to provide culturally specific services or programs, that information is not tracked by the province.

Of the 36 long-term care homes in the Waterloo-Wellington area, some have catered to the Mennonite community’s needs, said a spokesperson with Home and Community Care Support Services Waterloo Wellington. None, however, provide culturally specific care for Chinese, South Asian or Black residents — the region’s three most populous cultural groups.

“Co-ordinators work with patients and families to complete care needs assessments including determining what is important in individuals’ care experiences such as ethnocultural, language and religious aspects,” the spokesperson said, adding they can help find a more suitable care home elsewhere in the province.

For now, Gill is dedicating her studies to understanding the impacts of dementia within the South Asian community and their caregivers.

“The further you move from the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] the more scarce culturally appropriate services become and the South Asian community is the biggest visible minority according to Statistics Canada,” she said.

“I’m bilingual and can speak the local language, so I can use that to my benefit to interview people and remove that first barrier, where they might not participate in our research because they don’t speak English.”

Gill and her family are doing what they can to care for her grandmother at home, where she can stay in an environment that is familiar to her and communicate with people in her own language.

As she continues with her research, Gill hopes her work will bring more awareness and ultimately help support more older adults and their caregivers in her community.

Source: Culturally focused dementia care needed for Canada’s senior immigrants, researchers say

‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Not surprising but useful confirmation:

Indigenous and racialized seniors have much lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than their white counterparts, which a new study says reflects how economic marginalization and inequity follows people into their old age.

Overall, white Canadian seniors enjoy the most retirement security with an average yearly income at $42,800, way above the $32,200 for their peers in the Indigenous communities and $29,200 for visible minorities over the age of 65.

Based on 2016 census data, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found 13.7 per cent of white seniors lived in poverty compared to 21.5 per cent among Indigenous seniors and 19.8 per cent among racialized seniors, according to the Low Income Measure After Tax or LIM-AT.

Hence, it’s not surprising that seniors from marginalized groups have to count on public pensions and benefits to make up for lagging retirement incomes, says the study, titled “Colour-coded Retirement,” released Wednesday.

“The data reveal that there are real consequences of economic marginalization and systemic racism. Elders and seniors are financially insecure in retirement, if they can retire at all, because the opportunities for saving are so limited,” says Hayden King, a report co-author and executive editor of the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nation-led research centre.

Senior white Canadians, who made up 85 per cent of the senior population in the country, have the most diverse sources of income of all groups.

About a third of their income comes from public pension sources such as the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, Old Age Security (OAS), and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS); a third from retirement contributions to work and individual pension plans; and the rest from investment and employment earnings as well as other sources.

In comparison, public pension accounts for 47 per cent of Indigenous seniors’ and 40 per cent of racialized seniors’ retirement income, respectively.

These two groups — accounting for 14.8 per cent of the population over age 65 in Canada — had less money to draw from their employers’ pension plan and own retirement savings, or investment income. They were more likely to rely on employment income.

RPPs and RRSPs account for a third of white seniors’ retirement income, versus 25 per cent for Indigenous seniors and 21 per cent for racialized seniors.

On the whole, racialized Canadian households have less spare money to contribute to those plans than white Canadian households. And when they do, their contributions are lower.

Chinese households were an exception with an average contribution of $10,000 in 2015, which was higher than the $7,600 contribution made by white households. In comparison, Black families only made a $4,600 average contribution.

“The overall low share of the racialized and Indigenous population that contribute to RPPs points to reduced retirement security for the next generation of workers,” the report warned.

Among racial minority groups, retirement incomes also vary among those who were born in Canada versus those who are immigrants.

While only 3 per cent of Chinese seniors and 1 per cent of South Asian seniors are Canadian-born, their average retirement income is higher than their immigrant peers.

In the case of Black Canadians, however, being Canadian-born offers no income advantage.

“Canadian-born Black seniors’ income is virtually identical to that of Black immigrants, with the result that Canadian-born Black seniors’ average income continues to be 25 per cent lower than Canadian-born white seniors’ income,” said the report.

“This provides us with insight into the continuing impact of anti-Black racism on seniors’ income.”

The study also shows the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit seniors’ income, as well as their respective contributions to RPPs and RRSPs.

First Nations seniors have the lowest average income of any Indigenous group, at $33,500 for men and $26,300 for women, followed by their Inuit ($39,900 and $32,150) and Métis ($41,765 and $28,285) counterparts. Métis seniors were most likely to contribute to private pension and retirement savings plans, while their First Nations peers had the lowest participation rate.

Researchers said there is also a consistent gender gap with senior women of all demographic backgrounds having lower retirement incomes and higher poverty rates than senior men.

The study found the overall racialized senior population’s total income averaged $33,900 for men and $25,000 for women. While visible minority male seniors’ average income is 36 per cent lower than their white male counterparts, senior racialized women’s average income is 26 per cent below their white female peers.

“It is only when the economic impacts of underlying racism and sexism are addressed that we will achieve equal access to a secure retirement for all,” said the 49-page report, funded by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation

It said the data shows that GIS and OAS pension — both adopted as anti-poverty measures — are crucial sources of income for senior women who are First Nations or racialized immigrants.

The increase in OAS by the federal Liberal government for those 75 and older in the 2021 federal budget is a step in the right direction to narrow retirement income disparities, said the study.

It recommends measures to eliminate barriers to equitable employment opportunities and increased access to workplace-based pension plans and retirement savings

Source: ‘Colour-coded’ retirement security: Study finds economic marginalization and inequity follow people into old age

Australia: Melbourne gets nod for $1mn ethno specific aged care

Have seen some of these initiatives in the Canadian context for language (second language fluency can decline), community and food choice reasons:

Indian community members joined local politicians and aged care providers recently at the launch of Planning Permits for an ethno specific, Indian aged care facility in Melbourne. The Australian Federal Government has approved a $1 million dollar grant towards the 108-bed facility in the south-eastern suburb of Noble Park.

According to Petra Neelman, Executive Director of MiCare (Formerly Dutch Care), the facility will ensure availability and access to linguistic and cultural needs, social activities and food choices for the residents. The plans include four prayer rooms, a vegetarian kitchen and a 300-seat capacity community hall among other culturally sensitive features.

Years of persistence in attempts to provision aged care services from an ethno specific Indian perspective finally saw some promising development with this launch. As all the dignitaries that attended the event pointed out, the credit for this exciting development goes to community leader and Multicultural Ambassador Vasan Srinivasan, who worked persistently to bring the plans to fruition.

Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, commended Vasan for his persistence in spearheading projects that included the development of the Museum India in Dandenong, where the aged care facility launch was held.

‘Energiser Bunny’ and ‘Organiser Extraordinaire’ were the terms used to describe Vasan as the Minister acknowledged his hard work in negotiating with both the Federal and State Governments in relation to the proposed facility.

According to the Minister, ethno specific services provide enhanced connectedness and mental wellbeing for older people from diverse backgrounds. He thanked everyone involved for getting this up and running and officially declared the planning approvals as completed.

Roz Blades, Mayor, City of Dandenong, joined the Minister in launching the plans along with Neil Angus, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and Matt Fregon, Member for Mount Waverley.

Despite the melting heat, the event was well attended by multicultural leaders, community representatives and local media. MC Aneka and Swati admirably kept their cool through the entire event as they invited the dignitaries to say a few words.

Rakesh Malhotra (Consul General of India in Melbourne), Dr Dinesh Parekh (Artistic Director of Museum India) and Dr Sharad Gupta (President of FIAV) also addressed the audience briefly. A traditional Indian wrap and flowers were presented to all the dignitaries.

A light vegetarian meal was served after the event.

Speaking to the guests post event, Vasan Srinivasan shared his experience of the challenges that were faced and the multiple attempts made before reaching this stage of approval.

He is optimistic that the combination of MiCare’s experience of working with ethnic backgrounds, Federal and State Government funding and community support will ensure the realisation of this project. “As the population of Indians in Melbourne continues to grow it is imperative that the community has access to ethno specific aged care in order to age and live well,” said Vasan.

According to him, availability of an ethno-specific and multicultural aged care, bilingual workforce and health educators will play a pivotal role in promoting healthy ageing and community capacity building.

Source: Melbourne gets nod for $1bn ethno specific aged care

‘Significant’ health gaps found between Canadian and immigrant seniors

Not surprising with respect to economic indicators but more so with respect to health:

With the latest census showing more seniors than children living in Canada, a new study by the Wellesley Institute has identified “significant” disparities in self-reported health and mental health between Canadian and immigrant seniors, especially those who are “racialized” — or racial minorities — and from non-English background.

“Immigrant seniors, especially those who arrived more recently, reported poorer health status, in both overall health and mental health, than non-immigrant seniors,” said the report, “Seniors’ Health in the GTA,” released Tuesday.

“While only 19 per cent of non-immigrant seniors reported fair/poor health, 34 per cent of recent and mid-term immigrants and 26 per cent of long-term immigrants rated their health as fair/poor. Similar patterns were found in self-reported mental health.”

According to census data released in May, there were 5.9 million people aged 65 and older in Canada, just above the 5.8 million children under 14 — showing the country’s elderly population surpassing its youth population for the first time.

In the GTA, nearly two in three seniors were immigrants. Among all immigrant seniors, 43 per cent were visible minorities and 69 per cent reported a mother tongue that was not English.

The composition of immigrant seniors in the region is also changing rapidly, with 82 per cent of the recent arrivals being from a racialized background and 88 per cent reported a non-English mother tongue (versus 27 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively, among long-term immigrant seniors who have been in Canada for more than 30 years).

“Two thirds of seniors in Greater Toronto are immigrants. The demographics has changed, the need for health care has changed,” said Seong-gee Um, a co-author of the study with fellow researcher Naomi Lightman.

“There has been more recognition of these changes, but not much has been done to address the gaps.”

Based on the Canadian Community Health Survey data collected between 2007 and 2014, the researchers identified a sample of 10,125 seniors and compared the five social determinants of health (income, employment, education, sense of belonging and health-care access) with the self-reported health status among Canadians and immigrants who have been in Canada for different lengths of time.

They also examined if the health status of the immigrant group varied for those who were visible minorities and have a mother tongue beside English.

Overall, 40 per cent of seniors rated their general health as excellent/very good, while 67 per cent of seniors described their mental health the same.

However, the ratings differed significantly across the diverse senior populations by immigration status, length of time in Canada, mother tongue and if the subjects are racial minorities.

Um said the disparities in health have much to do with how one’s racialized identity, English language ability and immigrant background impact negatively on the social determinants of health.

The study found:

● Racialized immigrants were nearly twice as likely as non-racialized immigrants to rely on social assistance as their main source of income (14.7 per cent versus 7.5 per cent).

● The rate of low-income for racialized seniors was 15.4 per cent, more than twice as high as the rate for non-racialized seniors (7.2 per cent).

● Three in 10 seniors with English as mother tongue have been employed or self-employed in the last year, compared to just 21.5 per cent among their non-English mother-tongue counterparts.

● Sixty per cent of recent immigrant seniors reported a strong sense of belonging, compared to 75 per cent for Canadians, 64 per cent of those who have been here for 21 to 30 years and 73 per cent who had been here for 31-plus years.

“There is definitely a need for more targeted approaches in service planning and delivery to improve health equity and make sure we have proper ethnospecific care,” said Um.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need additional resources. It just means we need to redeploy some of our existing resources to cater to the changing needs and be creative.”

Source: ‘Significant’ health gaps found between Canadian and immigrant seniors | Toronto Star

Statscan fails to keep pace with seniors’ living arrangements

Valid concerns given the aging of the population:

In the wake of the 2016 census, researchers say they’re increasingly worried about limited data on a key segment of Canada’s booming senior population.
For the latest census distributed in May, Statistics Canada allowed administrators of nursing and retirement homes to complete a short-form census on behalf of residents. The agency also omitted the long-form census for all “collective dwellings,” which include hospitals, work camps and correctional institutions.

The move has irked some seniors and sparked calls from researchers for Statistics Canada to revise the 2021 census delivery as new models of senior living crop up.

“It’s something I’m concerned about with the aging of our population,” said Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics and a census expert. “The data on our elderly population needs more attention than it’s gotten.”

Last year marked the first time that Canada had more people aged 65 and over – 16.1 per cent, or 5.8 million Canadians – than those 14 and under.

Without long-form results, Mr. Norris said researchers will lack crucial data about seniors’ income, ethnicity and education, among other findings. The data would be able to pinpoint demographic trends that have health implications, and shape myriad social policies, including seniors’ housing.

“Depending on the research and topic, it could be very important to include that group [of seniors], especially if you were doing anything health-related,” said Mr. Norris, who spent nearly 30 years at Statscan.

In the 2011 census, 378,000 people were counted in nursing and retirement homes classified as collective dwellings. This year, as in 2011, the short-form census – which captures age, gender, marital status and languages spoken – was distributed only to administrators of such homes.

Many questions on the long-form census, such as employment information, would not apply to seniors in nursing and retirement homes, said Geoff Bowlby, Statscan’s director-general of collection and regional services.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/statscan-fails-to-keep-pace-with-seniors-living-arrangements/article31305272/ 

Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes

Another good piece by Douglas Todd covering the different perspectives on ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes. From my perspective, I can understand this need given the importance of familiar food and that second-language fluency deteriorates with age:

Some critics say taxpayers should not be paying for such ethnically-specific seniors homes.

But Sood and Charan Gill, the dynamic founder of PICS, insist there is a third major reason, in addition to language and cuisine, to create residences specifically for South Asian and other visible-minority seniors: Widespread elder abuse in the immigrant population.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Gill, 80.

“We hear stories of financial and emotional abuse of elders every day here. But no one wants to talk about it,” he says, noting that members of immigrant communities are often ashamed their co-ethnics are not properly taking care of their elders.

Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day's lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. 'Food is most important' as a cultural consideration for the residents.
Resident Saroj Sood peruses the day’s lunch menu at the Guru Nanak Niwas senior home in Surrey. ‘Food is most important’ as a cultural consideration for the residents.RIC ERNST /  PNG

Even though Statistics Canada figures show South Asian grandparents in Canada are eight times more likely to live with their children and grandchildren than ethnic Japanese and Caucasian grandparents, many of Metro’s 250,000 South Asians still yearn to live separate from their offspring.

“Given a chance, these seniors would never leave their homes because of the strong sense of family and affinity towards their culture,” says PICS communications officer Shruti Prakash-Joshi.

“(But) PICS works very closely with seniors and we are witness to some horrific stories relating to financial and other abuse.”

PICS is lobbying the federal and provincial governments for more than $45 million to build a new “Diversity Village” on property it has bought in the Cloverdale area of Surrey. The 140-bed facility would have different sections for seniors of different ethnic backgrounds.

Meanwhile, leaders among Metro Vancouver’s 400,000-member ethnic Chinese population are also pushing for more of their own “culturally appropriate” seniors homes, which would employ Chinese-speaking staff.

As well, Muslim leaders in Burnaby and elsewhere are pressing the province for specialized seniors homes for immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

With 45 per cent of the population of Metro Vancouver born outside the country, Canada’s National Household Survey reports one in six Metro residents do not speak English or French in their homes.

Are Canadians ready to support more ethnic-specific seniors homes?
South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel ‘totally isolated,’ says Charan Gill, founder of Progressive Intercultural Community Services. ‘Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.’

Gill acknowledges providing ethnic-specific food “is a little bit more expensive than giving everybody the same food.”

And he admits that B.C. government’s health authority officials are “resistant” to spend more money than is absolutely necessary on language-specific facilities. He rejects suggestions “culturally sensitive” seniors homes may promote ethnic enclaves.

Former Canadian diplomat Martin Collacott, a Surrey resident, says there is little wrong with ethnic communities creating seniors homes that offer ethnic-specific language and food — as long as the ethnic groups themselves pay for the facilities.

The author of a Fraser Institute report titled Canadian Family Class Immigration: The Parent and Grandparent Component argues it is the federal policy that allows many immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada that makes such ethnic-specific seniors homes necessary in the first place.

“The problem with such facilities being provided for sponsored parents and grandparents is that the rationale for bringing them in is that it is traditional for them to live with adult offspring, often to babysit. On this basis it becomes questionable why they would be placed in such care facilities.”

Collacott, who has frequently advised the House of Commons on immigration policy, wrote a paper for The Association of Canadian Studies that showed sponsored parents and grandparents who arrive in their 50s or older are the least likely to work in Canada, pay income taxes or learn French or English.

Despite some opposition, Gill staunchly advocates for governments moving beyond the “Eurocentric model” of seniors homes to the “multicultural model.”

South Asian seniors who end up in mainstream seniors homes in Canada feel “totally isolated,” Gill says. “Nobody talks to them. And they don’t get the food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Many give up and die quickly.”

Remaining confident of his vision, Gill tells stories about South Asian seniors in Metro Vancouver who had to move to “Eurocentric” care homes and who die within months.

Source: Douglas Todd: Push on for ‘culturally appropriate’ seniors homes | Vancouver Sun

Statistics Canada: The contribution of immigration to the size and ethnocultural diversity of future cohorts of seniors

Projected_distribution_of_various_cohorts_at_age_65__by_place_of_birthNot surprising but interesting:

The aging of Canada’s population is currently related to the baby-boom cohort reaching their senior years. Subsequent cohorts will continue to sustain high populations of seniors because of declining mortality rates and higher immigration levels.

According to population projections, future cohorts of older Canadians could also be more ethnoculturally diverse, as a larger portion of them could be born outside of Canada.

Source: The Daily — Study: The contribution of immigration to the size and ethnocultural diversity of future cohorts of seniors