Although general awareness and concern for seniors has increased in recent years, the Legion has been providing support to seniors and veterans through more than 1,500 branches for many years. More than 50 years ago, branches first got involved in building low-rent apartment units for elderly veterans, widows and their dependents. Today, most branches conduct seniors' programs or provide services focused on health care, home support and housing.
The involvement of local Legion branches, as well as Ladies Auxiliaries, has resulted in the establishment of at least one, or more, seniors' programs in most Canadian communities. At the national level there is advocacy for seniors' rights
and their well-being. Dominion Command has produced resource material specifically designed to assist branches and Ladies Auxiliaries in meeting the needs of seniors and veterans in their communities. The Legion spends approximately $3 million and contributes over 300,000 volunteer hours annually to assist thousands of seniors across the nation.
All levels of the Legion - local, provincial and national - are dedicated to the principle that it is far better for Canada that older people continue to live independently in their own homes. Legion branches can help make this principle a reality.
Either alone, or in cooperation with other municipal, provincial or federal agencies, the Legion provides community programs to augment official programs. These include Meals-On-Wheels; vehicles to transport disabled people to day
hospitals, or bring seniors to branches for recreational day-programs; telephone support services; home and hospital visit programs; handyman help with maintenance; transportation or escort services for shopping, medical, dental appointments, etc.; and counselling services by volunteers and professionals.
The Legion is committed to providing acceptable and affordable housing for seniors and veterans. More than 150 branches have housing projects on which they spend $500 thousand annually.
While some projects are for veterans only, most offer accommodation to all seniors. Current
housing is valued at $195 million.
Through a joint initiative of The Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), The Legion’s Housing Centre for Excellence has been in operation since May 2000. The Legion’s Housing Centre for Excellence provides assistance to Legion Branches and Provincial Commands with housing projects and real property related issues.
A national "Directory of Legion-Sponsored Accommodation" has been compiled as a ready reference for Legion housing projects across the country. It is evidence of the commitment branches have made to providing decent, affordable housing for veterans and seniors. the Legion also administers, on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), a Long Term Care Surveyor program to administer a quality of care questionnaire to veterans residing in these facilities.
The Legion's commitment to seniors is apparent from the number of services and activities sponsored by branches. Health care, recreation and social activities are features of many branches while others offer instruction on matter such as safety, home crime-proofing, avoiding fraud and con games and elder abuse.
The Legion continues to meet the challenges posed by our aging society through the active support and encouragement of branch participation in seniors' programs and activities.