Pam Williamson named to National Seniors Council

Pam Williamson

MANITOULIN—Dr. Pamela Williamson, retired executive director of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre has been selected as one of 12 members of a National Seniors Council (NSA) that will serve as an expert panel to examine measures, including a potential aging at home benefit, to further support Canadians who wish to age within the comfort of their own homes.

“As an Indigenous person, I have been honoured to sit on this council (she has served on the council since 2021),” Dr. Williamson told The Expositor. “Minister of Seniors Kamal Khera, and Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos announced on October 6 that the National Seniors Council will serve as an expert panel to examine measures, including a potential aging at home benefit, to further support Canadians who wish to age in the comfort of their own home.”

“We will be looking at assisting where there are gaps, and with the panel suggesting recommendations,” said Dr. Williamson. She pointed out the program the council is looking at is “called Aging Adults, to be able to say what can be done to allow seniors to stay at home longer,” said Dr. Williamson, she said noting seniors could be going to a nursing home or a hospital when they may not need to. If they have the right support and services available to them, they will be able to stay at home longer. But because services are not in place, this is where they end up living, instead of at home.”

The NSC will engage with older adults, stakeholders, and experts to provide advice to the Government of Canada on current and emerging issues and opportunities related to the health, well-being and quality of life of older Canadians. The Council is comprised of 12 members selected from across Canada for their knowledge and expertise relating to older Canadians.

“Canadians are living longer and healthier lives than previous generations and most prefer to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible,” a release from Employment and Social Development Canada reads. “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting programs and services that seniors need, should they want to live independently, in their homes and with the communities that support them, for as long as possible.”

On October 6, the two ministers announced that the NSC “will serve as an expert panel to examine measures, including a potential aging at home benefit, to further support Canadians who wish to age within the comfort of their own homes.”

“Given their extensive knowledge and expertise on issues affecting older adults, as well as their connections to work being done in communities across the country, the NSC members are well positioned to provide advice as well as consult with stakeholders as part of their work on this important issue,” the release continues.

“Additionally, this work will complement the council’s existing mandate to advise the Government of Canada, through the minister of health and the minister of seniors, on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, including the opportunities and challenges arising from a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse aging population.”

“Supporting seniors is and will continue to be a key priority for our government,” said Minister of Seniors Kamal Khera. “As Minister of Seniors, I want to ensure that older Canadians can age at home comfortably within the communities that support them. I am pleased to share that the NSC has agreed to provide recommendations for establishing an Aging at Home Benefit. Their insight, expertise, and experience from a wide range of disciplines pertaining to seniors have and continue to be a valuable asset in assisting our government in making informed decisions to continue supporting seniors across the country.”

Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said, “We know Canadians want to age closer to home and family. To do so, they should have access to the safe, quality health care they need and deserve. The National Seniors Council will bring their considerable expertise to this issue and provide advice to our government on how to help improve or maintain the health and quality of life of seniors as they age.”

The NSC engages with seniors, stakeholders and experts to provide advice to the government of Canada on matters related to the health, well-being and quality of life of seniors. The NSC is made up of experts on seniors’ issues and aging, individuals with experience working for organizations that represent the interests of seniors, and seniors themselves.

Dr. Williamson said the council has until September of 2023 to come up with its recommendations to the government. “Absolutely, the idea is to provide input that will benefit our aging adults in any part of Canada. In the North, we have a lot of challenges in having support services in place to allow seniors to remain at home.”

Dr. Williamson said, “it is encouraging that the government is looking at this as a priority.” Dr. Williamson has extensive experience in community primary healthcare, including 15 years as the executive director of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre. She has also championed a number of initiatives and programs in support of the health and well-being of Indigenous elders.

Dr. Williamson is a First Nations researcher and author with a personal knowledge of the Anishinabek ways of being, and a solid understanding of the issues and challenges experienced by Northerners. She is a board member of the Health Sciences North Research Institute and is a member of a provincial Indigenous circle with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

She has a doctorate in Higher Education, Administration from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She has a master’s degree in higher education/higher education administration from Central Michigan University and has served as a board member with a number of organizations.

“The National Seniors Council plays a leadership role advising the government of Canada on matters related to the well-being, health and quality of life of older adults,” said NSC chairperson Dr. Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard. “It is with great pleasure that the members of the National Seniors Council accept to examine measures that can further support older Canadians wishing to age at home. We look forward to providing Minister Khera and Minister Duclos with advice that is informed by our expertise, experiences and considerate of the needs of older adults.”