Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard and Ken McGeorge have been tapped to lead the provincial government's new Council on Aging that will design an aging strategy that will effect policies affecting seniors in New Brunswick.

The co-chairs and 15 New Brunswickers who were named to the council were introduced Tuesday by Health Minister Victor Boudreau and Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers.

"I am confident this council will foster collaboration, bring people together to share best practices and make significant improvements," said Rogers in a statement.

"This council will allow people to become a part of the the solution while helping us to identify the needs of the aging population."

Ken McGeorge

Ken McGeorge, the former chief executive officer of York Care Centre, will co-chair the province's Council on Aging. (CBC)

The Council on Aging was announced with few details by the Gallant government in September 2015 and seniors forced the government to back down on changes it planned to make to the province's nursing home policy.

The council's mandate is develop an aging strategy that will guide all provincial government actions on issues affecting seniors.

New Brunswick's population is the oldest of any province in Canada.

Statistics Canada reported that on July 1, 2015, 19 per cent of the province's population was aged 65 years or older.

The national average was 16.1 while the province with the lowest percentage of people in that age group was Alberta, with 11.6 per cent.

"New Brunswick is facing a daunting challenge — balancing the needs of an aging population with the rising cost and pressures on the long-term care system," said Rogers.

The government wants the council to develop an aging strategy that will see:

  • Seniors active and engaged in their communities
  • People of all ages be treated with dignity and respect
  • Healthy, active living be supported throughout an individual's life through strategic investments and partnerships by government
  • Individuals receive the proper care, supports and services through a responsive, integrated provincial system that is financially sustainable

McGeorge is the interim executive director of the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick and the former chief executive officer of York Foundation and York Care Centre in Fredericton.

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, a University of Moncton nursing professor, will co-chair the province's Council on Aging. (CBC)

Dupuis-Blanchard is an associate professor in nursing at the University of Moncton and holds a research chair in population aging at the university. She is also the president of the Canadian Association on Gerontology.

Others named as members of the council for a one-year term are:

  • Jean-Luc Bélanger of Dieppe.
  • Ian MacDonald of Fredericton.
  • Anne Marie Gillis of Saint John.
  • Haley Flaro of Fredericton.
  • Rinette Côté of Lac-Baker.
  • Marianne Mallia of Upper Kingsclear.
  • Jacqueline Matthews of St. Stephen.
  • Ron Toivanen of Bathurst.
  • Steve Epworth of Sackville.
  • Annabelle St. Laurent of Tracadie.
  • Cindy Donovan of Saint John.
  • Flora Dell of Moncton.
  • Carolyn Wrobel of Moncton.
  • Sanjay Siddhartha of Miramichi.
  • Dan Gillis of Moncton.

The councils's first meeting is to take place by mid-March and it is to present an aging strategy to the provincial government before Dec. 31, 2016.