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Mrs. Rehana, a 50-year-old widow, devotedly raised her son Tareq on limited means, enabling his academic success. Upon Tareq’s achievement of a scholarship for further studies abroad, Mrs. Rehana liquidated her assets to support his aspirations, trusting in his reciprocation of care in the future. However, upon relocating to Canada, she found herself assuming caregiving responsibilities for Tareq’s growing family, neglecting her own well-being and access to entitled government benefits, the management of which rests with her son.
This is a real scenario in the South Asian community. There is an imperative for research in Toronto, specially in GTA to identify and address the multifaceted barriers hindering senior immigrants from accessing governmental assistance, particularly addressing financial abuse created by linguistic and cultural disparities. Such research can pave the way for tailored interventions to safeguard the welfare and rights of senior citizens in immigrant communities.

What is the project about?

The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal grants and contributions program. This program funds projects that empower seniors in their communities and contribute to improving their health and well-being. The funded research project represents a crucial step towards addressing the systemic barriers that hinder seniors’ (Age group 55 to 70) access to essential government assistance programs in the GTA.

Research Objective

The objective of this project is to identify the barriers that South Asian seniors and older adults face, when trying to access and navigate government assistance programs, to eliminate those barriers, and to provide policymakers valuable insights into the shortcomings of government assistance programs to develop more effective and culturally sensitive policies that better serve South Asian seniors and other diverse populations.

The primary objectives of the project include:

  • Identifying the key barriers that senior citizens encounter when attempting to access government assistance programs in the GTA including Old Age Security, Ontario Disability Support Program, and social housing applications
  • The project will expand awareness of elder abuse including financial abuse by uncovering the specific vulnerabilities that South Asian seniors face within government assistance programs and highlighting the socio-economic, cultural, geographical or linguistic factors that contribute to these barriers.
  • Examining the impact of digital exclusion on seniors’ access to online government services and resources.
  • Exploring potential solutions and policy recommendations to address identified barriers and improve seniors’ access to assistance programs.


The research project will employ a mixed-method of combining quantitative approach and qualitative interviews with community consultations to gather comprehensive data. Researchers will collaborate with senior centers, community organizations, and government agencies to ensure a diverse and representative sample of seniors from across the GTA.

50 seniors from community organizations and 20 non seniors from policy makers or Government agencies.

Quantitative surveys will be distributed to assess the prevalence and severity of barriers faced by seniors when accessing government assistance programs. Qualitative interviews will provide in-depth insights into seniors’ experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement.

Expected Outcomes

At the conclusion of the research project, a detailed report will be produced, highlighting the findings, analysis, and recommendations derived from the study. This report will be disseminated to government agencies, policymakers, community organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to inform policy decisions and program development efforts aimed at enhancing seniors’ access to government assistance programs in the GTA.
We aim to engage 40-50 seniors in our research and have around 500 seniors and 100 non-seniors benefit from this project through information dissemination. While the findings are not generalizable due to the small sample, nevertheless a number of interesting trends may emerge regarding how and what variables influence the elderly immigrant South Asians to access the benefits and assistance offered by Govt.

By collaborating with seniors, community partners, and policymakers, this initiative seeks to catalyze positive change and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for aging populations in South Asian communities.

Funded by