Evidence of meeting #69 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was need.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Natalie Sonnen  Executive Director, Dying Healed
Kevin Smith  Representative, Seniors First BC
Birgit Pianosi  Associate Professor, Gerontology Department, Huntington and Laurentian Universities, As an Individual
Linda Silas  President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Vera Pawis Tabobondung  Senator, National Association of Friendship Centres

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

Yes, I would say fewer within the family because the nuclear family is much smaller these days. Oftentimes, in our experience, we don't have the core family members there to take care of their parents, for example. That was what I was referring to.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

The cost of $25 billion annually for the value of that volunteerism that is already happening, which is often provided by family members, is a savings to our country, and it provides that human touch.

You also mentioned that loneliness and isolation are major contributors to people getting thoughts of life not being worth living: “I'm not feeling well”, or “I'm lonely”, and “Just give me the shot. Put me to sleep. Goodbye, I've had enough.”

Could you expand on the importance of meeting that need of depression and isolation through volunteerism?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

Yes. It obviously has been a concern of ours.

One of the things I did want to quickly mention is that the program we run is available and being utilized most especially by older adults themselves. In terms of giving people incentive to get involved with their community, this program, we found, has been excellent, not only in terms of the visitation and the visiting of those who are dying, but older adults themselves are the ones who are taking the program and volunteering themselves. It's really giving them a way to connect with their community. What we've found is that it's been extremely valuable for them.

The statistic, again, that was quite concerning is that, when people are lonely and don't feel that they have meaning in their lives, they are definitely more susceptible to the notion of an early exit and—

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

I'm going to have to interrupt you. My apologies. I'm running out of time.

I think it's so important that we deal with this issue, and the study that we have right now is a national seniors strategy on M-106.

I'd like to move a motion that the Standing Committee on Human Resources, this committee, undertake a study on caregivers in Canada—basically what's being asked for by CARP— immediately after this study, and that the committee hear from witnesses at 10 meetings and report the findings on the status of caregivers in Canada, including recommendations on federal changes needed to assist caregivers in the House. I think it's very important, after this study, that we move on to caregivers.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Thank you, Mr. Warawa.

I just want to remind everyone that we have carved out the last probably 20 minutes of today for committee business, if you'd like to wait. Otherwise, we're going to have to ask everybody to leave.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Can we deal with this at the end of the day?

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Absolutely, 100%.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

I'd be glad to do that. Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Thank you very much.

Now over to MP Ruimy for six minutes.

October 31st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Thank you very much, everybody, for coming.

I've said this before, and I'll continue to say it. This is a problem that's been ignored for decades, which is what has brought us to where we are today. There's not going to be one magic bullet that's going to solve the problem. It's going to involve funding, absolutely, but it's also a cultural mindset that needs to change.

Before I got elected.... Well, I still own a little coffee shop in my riding, and we've been doing, for about four years now, something called the death café. It sounds morbid, but it's a place where people get together to talk about death in a non-threatening, life-empowering way. It's one of the reasons I decided to run for Parliament. I started seeing 15-year-olds engaging with 88-year-olds and the magic there. Nobody's getting paid. This is just starting to take back what we've lost, because we used to be able to take care of our own. We used to be able to engage each other.

I think, Natalie, you said that the nuclear family has changed dramatically, and we don't have that number of people there. From what I see, that's a great opportunity.

I think it's very similar to your Dying Healed program, because you are dealing with end of life. You're having those conversations. Am I correct in that?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Can you quickly tell me, Natalie, how you are growing this part of your program?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

We have a network of groups across Canada. We have about 112 groups. These are very small grassroots organizations. I think they're concerned with what they were seeing happening within their communities in terms of elder abuse and the social isolation of elders, so they wanted to really get involved. They're the ones who are taking this program and running it in their local communities. Often it's through a church, a synagogue, or a mosque, where there's a community already established. They're coming in and saying, “Here's this program. Let's get together; let's first learn it.” There's an education component. It's also confidence building for volunteers. It's giving them a sense of ownership, and then empowering them to go out. We're teaching them concepts about the power of human presence, that there's meaning in human suffering. We don't want to suffer, but—

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

I'm going to jump in here. Is it a non-profit organization?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

It is, yes.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Have you been taking advantage of the new horizons for seniors program to fund it?

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

No, we haven't. I'm learning a lot sitting on this panel today.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

It's a good program. You should look into that.

4:55 p.m.

Executive Director, Dying Healed

Natalie Sonnen

Yes, I've written it down.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Are we doing partisan things now?

Thank you. I'm going to move now to Ms. Pianosi. Do you see an uptick in people who want to study gerontology?

5 p.m.

Associate Professor, Gerontology Department, Huntington and Laurentian Universities, As an Individual

Dr. Birgit Pianosi

I think it's a catch-22. Most of the programs internationally actually have problems surviving. That's just reality because of the fact that right now they are not accredited programs. They're not considered to be health care professionals, so it's very difficult for graduates of the programs, three-year and four-year programs, to find employment in long-term care and so on. So it has to do with professionalization of the field.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

The number of medical practitioners who specialize in gerontology—

5 p.m.

Associate Professor, Gerontology Department, Huntington and Laurentian Universities, As an Individual

Dr. Birgit Pianosi

No, that's a different story. Medical professionals who study aging are geriatricians. They are social science programs, gerontology. It's not a medical program. It's a social science, usually, so the graduates would learn about what the aging process is, except for diseases. I mean, they learn them but they're not medical—

5 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Where do they go on from there? You get a graduate program. What do you do with that?

5 p.m.

Associate Professor, Gerontology Department, Huntington and Laurentian Universities, As an Individual

Dr. Birgit Pianosi

Many go into long-term care, not-for-profit organizations of aging, ministry offices, Statistics Canada, private—what do you call somebody who creates their own kind of company, I can't think of the word—entrepreneurships.