Program Overview

Program Overview - Age-Friendly OttawaThe Ottawa Age-Friendly Action Plan is a a joint Action Plan from the City of Ottawa and Age-Friendly Ottawa that was submitted to the World Health Organisation Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities on November 1st, 2013. This is a list of actions with deliverables and simple indicators for city and community-wide actions, organized under the 8 age-friendly domains: (1) Outdoor spaces and buildings, (2) Transportation, (3) Housing, (4) Social Participation, (5) Respect and social inclusion, (6) Civic participation and employment, (7) Communication and information, (8) Community support and health services.

You can also find the Progress Report – Phase 1 that provides a good summary of the age-friendly process undertaken to date in Ottawa.

The AFO Community Action Plan 2012-2014 is inspired from earlier work undertaken on to develop the AFO Community Framework. It is a list of concrete actions that are being implemented by the Council on Aging and its partners in the 8 age-friendly areas.

The Age-Friendly Ottawa Community Framework 2012-2014 aims to make Ottawa a more age-friendly community by engaging seniors in making changes that support active and healthy living. It is the result of public consultations conducted with older adults and those who support them, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa in the fall of 2011. The Age Friendly Ottawa Initiative follows the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Age-Friendly Cities framework. Age-Friendly Ottawa and the City of Ottawa’s Older Adult Plan represent mutually supportive initiatives that both aim to enhance the quality of life of older adults through changes in physical settings, programs and services.

What is an Age-Friendly City?

An age-friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities.

In an age-friendly city, policies, services, settings and structures support and enable people to age actively by:

  • recognizing the wide range of capacities and resources among older people;
  • anticipating and responding flexibly to aging-related needs and preferences;
  • respecting their decisions and lifestyle choices;
  • protecting those who are most vulnerable;
  • promoting the inclusion of older adults in, and valuing their contribution to all areas of community life.

Key Features of an Age-friendly Community:

Age-friendly communities are based on the principles of active aging throughout life. As a result, they benefit everyone: children, the young, adults and older persons.

  • Pleasant, secure and physically accessible outdoor spaces and public buildings
  • Well designed, affordable and secure housing choices
  • Well-maintained and accessible roads and walkways
  • Affordable and accessible public transportation
  • Secure neighbourhoods
  • Respectful relationships
  • Supportive health and community services
  • Opportunities to be socially active
  • Opportunities to participate in suitable volunteer, civic and employment positions
  • Information that is easy to access and understand

Source: World Health Organization. Global Age Friendly Cities: a Guide, 2007

Why Become Age-Friendly?

Population aging and urbanization are two global trends that together comprise major forces shaping the 21st century. At the same time as cities are growing, their share of residents aged 60 years and more is increasing. As of 2007, over half of the global population now lives in cities.Source: WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide

It is estimated that in the next 10 years, Canadians over age 65 will outnumber those under age 15. Within 30 years, as the Baby Boom generation continues to age, the population over age 65 will grow from 4.2 million to 9.8 million.

Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide
Evidence shows that health promotion and disease prevention strategies can help those who are aging well, in addition to those with chronic conditions and those who are at risk for serious health problems—even very late in life.

At the same time, older adults continue to make significant contributions on a number of fronts—to their families (by providing assistance to spouses, children and grandchildren); to their friends and neighbours; to the community (through volunteering activities); and to the paid economy as skilled and knowledgeable workers.

The costs and benefits associated with aging and the impacts on communities and broader society make an investment in active and healthy aging.
In Ontario, the number of seniors aged 65 and over is projected to more than double from 1.8 million, or 13.7 per cent of population in 2009, to 4.2 million, or 23.4 per cent, by 2036. The growth in the share and number of seniors will accelerate over the 2011–2031 period as baby boomers begin to turn 65. Ontario Population projection update, Spring 2010, based on the 2006 Census.

The city of Ottawa is no stranger to this aging trend. The need to adapt to the population of seniors in Ottawa is increasing at a fast pace as a large and growing demographic of 100,870 people, or 12.4% in 2006, is projected to reach 230,922 and to make up 20.3% of the population by 2031. In addition, this population is increasingly characterized by diversity of religious beliefs, ethnocultural and linguistic identities and sexual orientations, all of which impact access to, and delivery of, services.
Fact Book on Aging: Seniors in Ottawa, The Council on Aging of Ottawa, 2009


Ottawa is a city where the physical, social and service environments are responsive to the needs of older adults thereby maximizing healthy and active aging.


To enhance and improve the age-friendliness of Ottawa for all seniors, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa and other community partners, using the processes of community engagement and action.


Actively engage seniors and the community as a whole in creating an age-friendly Ottawa that values the contributions of older adults, is responsive to their needs and provides them with a wide range of opportunities for active, healthy living.


  • Work collaboratively with the City of Ottawa’s Older Adult Plan Process in conducting an updated assessment of the age-friendliness of Ottawa using the WHO framework in the eight areas identified
  • Discover the issues, needs and priorities of seniors from their own perspective
  • Develop an age-friendly report card for Ottawa
  • Establish priorities to address problems and gaps
  • Develop a plan to implement the priorities that support active and healthy aging
  • Take action on priority issues that fall within the scope of responsibility of the community sector
  • Advocate and monitor accomplishments on the priorities which fall within the scope of responsibility of the various levels of government
  • Develop and maintain communication on the Age Friendly project with the community of seniors, stakeholders and the Global Age Friendly Cities network.

Initiatives and Accomplishments

  • Formed a team to apply to have Ottawa recognized as an age-friendly city by the World Health Organization
  • Engaged seniors in developing a baseline for measuring the age-friendliness of Ottawa
  • Working with seniors, the City of Ottawa and other partners to create action based on priorities defined by seniors

Promising practises

  • Launched “Building an Age-Friendly Business Community Project”.
  • Researching and developing a “Take Charge of Your Health” seniors’ health literacy program together with the Health Issues Committee and other partners.
  • Developing measurable indicators of an age-friendly community, in partnership with the City of Ottawa, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.

Ottawa, an Age-Friendly City

The Council on Aging of Ottawa became interested in the Age-Friendly Cities initiative in 2006. Much research was conducted before launching this project in Ottawa. One of the first tasks was to assess the current age-friendliness of our community. A comprehensive assessment helps to identify what a community is doing well, including how initiatives and programs support an age-friendly community.
This project built on a number of very important local initiatives such as:

  • The 2002 report “Meeting the Challenges of Ottawa’s Aging Population”
  • The 2004 “Successful Aging Ottawa Seniors Survey”
  • The 2006 City of Ottawa “Seniors Agenda”, the 2007 OCISO New Horizons report on Seniors
  • The City of Ottawa is in the process of updating its Older Adult Plan – this includes a full community scan and inventory of services for seniors in the City of Ottawa. A number of focus groups representing the wide diversity of the senior population in Ottawa are planned.