Amanda Dodaro is BC Healthy Communities’ Public Health Practicum Student.
Canada’s population is aging and by 2037, the number of Canadians 65 years and older is predicted to be approximately 10.4 million. Over the next 20 years, this group is forecasted to grow by 68%. These statistics highlight the fact that it is becoming increasingly important to develop policies, processes and partnerships that support upstream action and create healthier communities for all.
Since 2011, BC Healthy Communities Society (BCHC) has been supporting local governments, and since 2018, Indigenous governments, across B.C. in the development of age-friendly communities. BCHC began by administering the Age-friendly Community Recognition Award Program (2011-2016) and then added the Age-friendly Capacity Building Program (AFCB) (2015-2021), which was designed to provide facilitated supports to communities developing age-friendly plans.
As of January 2022, we are pleased to have become the new administrative organization for the Age-friendly Communities (AFC) Grant Program, funded by, and in partnership with, the BC Ministry of Health (MoH). The program is built on the many years of successful program delivery by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), and will continue to support local and Indigenous governments across the Province of B.C. in improving the age-friendly status of their communities.
The recently announced 2022 Age-friendly Communities Grant Program now consists of two main components. The first component is the cash funding for age-friendly assessments and action plans (Stream 1) or age-friendly projects (Stream 2). The second component is BCHC’s in-kind customized capacity building supports that are now offered to every AFC grant recipient by our staff team of planners, public health practitioners, evaluators and engagement specialists.
As part of the 2022 AFC program, a range of capacity building tools, resources and informative webinars will be developed to support each annual cohort of grant recipients in developing age-friendly plans and implementing age-friendly projects. A comprehensive evaluation framework has also been developed and will help to ensure the AFC Program offerings reflect Indigenous and local governments’ needs based on their direct input and experience.
Over the past years of delivering our Age-friendly Capacity Building Program, it was found that our in-kind facilitated supports, no matter how simple or complex, were very helpful in building the capacity of both individuals and organizations to advance their age-friendly communities initiatives. Our new AFC Program will continue to build on this momentum and place equity at the centre of our work.
We at BCHC are excited to continue to work alongside local and Indigenous governments across the province. We continue to be inspired by their creativity and commitment towards building equitable local environments that enable residents to be healthy, active and socially connected, while growing older in their home community.
We look forward to reviewing applications submitted for this round of the grant program.