In 2011, the number of seniors (people aged 65 and over) totaled 14.8% of the Canadian population. With the first baby boomers reaching the conventional retirement age of 65 in 2011, the retired pool of the population is expected to increase in the coming years.

As more people retire, there is a good chance that many of them would want to remain active and still contribute to society in some new form by utilizing their well-developed skill sets. One of the possible beneficiaries of this retirement boom may be the not-for-profit sector of Canada. The Canadian government has recognized this opportunity and offers the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which is discussed in some detail below.

About the Program

The New Horizons for Seniors Program is a federal Grants and Contributions program designed to support projects initiated or inspired by seniors. The program offers an avenue for seniors to keep their skills sharp after retirement by volunteering and making new contributions to society.

These contributions could take the form of sharing their knowledge with youth (e.g. providing assistance in developing a business plan, serving as a mentor, etc.), helping improve community facilities (e.g. parks, seniors’ centers, etc.), speaking to educate the masses about certain causes (e.g. domestic violence, bullying, etc.), preserving heritage through art restoration work (e.g. volunteering at museums), sharing their experiences about volunteering with soon-to-be-retired people and others as a means to encourage more people to donate their time, etc. More success stories resulting from the program can be found here.

Program Objectives

As mentioned above, the program is designed to help seniors participate in society after retirement. Proposals under this program need to align with one or more of the five objectives quoted below:

  • Promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations;
  • Engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others;
  • Expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
  • Supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors; and,
  • Providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.

Federal Funding

The Government of Canada provides up to $25,000 in grants per year per organization for community-based projects. Pan-Canadian projects involving the prevention of elder abuse are eligible for up to $250,000 per year in contributions or grants (maximum of 3 years).

Eligibility to Apply for Funding

The following entities are eligible to apply for federal funding:

  • Not-for-profit organizations;
  • For-profit organizations with the stipulation that the nature of the proposed activity is non-commercial and does not generate profit, while meeting one or more of the program objectives;
  • Municipal governments;
  • Band councils and other Aboriginal organizations;
  • Educational institutions;
  • Public health and social services bodies; and,
  • Community-based committees.

To receive the publication about the program, contact:

Publishing Services Human Resources and Skills Development Canada 140 Promenade du Portage Portage IV, 10th Floor Gatineau, Québec K1A 0J9 Fax: 819-953-7260

To speak to an agent:
Phone 1-800-277-9914 for service in English
TTY: 1-800-255-4786

Have you participated in or led an activity under the New Horizons for Seniors Program? Do you have any stories that you can share? Are you aware of other similar programs for seniors?

About the Author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.

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