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UPEI to Partner with Community in Major Atlantic Study on Seniors' Housing

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Every minute of every day another baby boomer turns 55 in Canada. The Atlantic provinces have more seniors per capita than any other part of the country, and that number is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. How will governments in the Atlantic region handle this challenge? That is the focus of a new almost $1.2 million research project out of Mount Saint Vincent University in which the University of Prince Edward Island is playing a key role. "Projecting the Housing Needs of Atlantic Canadians," brings together seniors, academics, service providers, housing developers and government departments to determine how to meet the housing needs of this rapidly-aging population.

Professor Judy-Lynn Richards, from the UPEI Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Professor Lori Weeks, from the Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences, are two of the researchers involved. Richards, a gerontologist and social demographer, will lead the evaluation team and participate in questionnaire construction, data collection, and statistical projections.

"This project is a unique opportunity for UPEI, and other universities, to build on the good working relationships we already have with seniors, community groups, and government so that we can plan for the future housing needs of Atlantic Canada's senior population," says Richards. "Never before has there been such a collaborative effort on all fronts to address seniors' housing in the region. The alliance will work to respond to the varied housing needs of the relatively rural, but diverse, population of Atlantic seniors. I am proud to be a part of this collective project, to collaborate with many different stakeholders, especially seniors, to effect policy change related to seniors' housing options."

Weeks, a gerontologist and expert on family, will chair the PEI research implementation team. She will co-chair the PEI stakeholder group with Irene Larkin, Executive Director of the PEI Senior Citizens' Federation. Together, they will seek input from various sources in the community. Weeks will also analyze seniors' housing choices available across Canada and internationally.

"I am very pleased to be involved with this timely and important research," says Weeks. "Gerontologists need to be aware of current services and supports for seniors, and to what extent these will meet future needs. This research will help us to anticipate what type and amount of seniors' housing will be needed in the future on PEI and in Atlantic Canada. A strength of this research is that academics will work with government agencies and community groups to both conduct the research and develop policy."

The PEI Senior Citizens' Federation, as project collaborator, the Centre for the Study on Health and Aging, as partner, and other groups on PEI with an interest in seniors' housing will also play a major role in the research. Funding comes from a $1 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and#150; Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program. An additional $181,000 comes from the government of Nova Scotia, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Dalhousie University, the University of Prince Edward Island, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of New Brunswick and Mount Saint Vincent University.

The research will result in policy recommendations that will be used to assist government decision-makers, housing developers, and community organizations to design and plan for seniors' housing needs over the next 20 years.


Anne McCallum
Media Relations and Communications

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