Wherever you live as an older adult (55+) or senior (65+) in Alberta — city, small town or country — if you don’t drive or have a vehicle, accessing timely, affordable, assisted transportation can be difficult. Add mobility issues and six months of winter, and it goes from difficult to impossible.

Booking transportation can be complicated, expensive, and result in missed medical appointments, cancelled trips out to get groceries or pick up prescriptions, missed meeting times to socialize with family and friends – the negative impact on health and wellbeing of inaccessible transportation is significant.

Complicating matters for older adults and seniors living in small towns, villages, and other rural locales is the frequently distant location of health facilities. As Alberta’s senior population rate continues to rise faster than other age groups (as of September 30, 2022, more than 725,000 Albertans were over 65, which could double by 2042), most Canadians prefer to age in place, finding alternative transportation is crucial.”

Image source: Alberta.ca.

Providing older Albertans with accessible transportation
On April 24, 2023, the Alberta government announced a $3.5 million investment in Healthy Aging Alberta to ensure accessible and affordable transportation for older Albertans throughout the province. Rural communities with a significant number of low-income seniors will be the priority of the three-year project, which will support up to 20 programs by partnering with volunteer-based drivers and other assisted transportation programs.

“Alberta can be one of the best places in the world to grow older,” said Karen Young, president and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area. “This announcement means seniors can continue participating in their community in a meaningful way as they age. This investment towards assisted transportation provides much-needed support. It is a commitment to creating social change and building inclusive communities where every person matters, regardless of their situation in life.”

“Healthy Aging Alberta recognizes the critical importance of assisted transportation in addressing the quality of life of older adults across Alberta, particularly in rural and remote parts of our province,” said Karen McDonald, Chair, Healthy Aging Alberta Community Leadership Council and Executive Director, Sage Seniors Association. “We know that community-based seniors-serving organizations are especially well-positioned to respond to this need with the appropriate investment of resources, support, and coordination. This is an important step towards ensuring that seniors can age well in their communities of choice.”

Healthy Aging Alberta

As United Way’s first province-wide Signature Initiative, Healthy Aging Alberta connects the province’s community-based, seniors-serving sector to ensure seniors can access the reliable, non-medical supports they need to continue living and thriving independently in the community.

Leaders from sector organizations came together as the Community Leadership Council, along with staff from United Way of Calgary and Area and the Government of Alberta to develop Healthy Aging Alberta in 2020, and to realize its vision: To make Alberta one of the best places in the world to grow older.