A powerhouse combination of Canadian high-tech companies has come together to launch a new program of virtual collaboration, community and learning for seniors, one that intends to use advanced technology to not just enhance the quality of life for older Canadians but also provide training and job opportunities in the high tech, finance and healthcare sectors.
CARP Canada (once known as the Canadian Association for Retired Persons) is the leading advocacy association for older Canadians, and it is working with a coalition of corporate leaders from the information technology, online learning and community infrastructure and support sectors to enable the new CARP Senior-Tech Virtual Network.
Citing Amazon Web Services (AWS) Canada as the infrastructure-as-a-service provider for the Tech Consortium Virtual Network, the initiative also includes an accomplished three-person program steering committee. Representing some of the top technology companies in Canada, developers of innovative and inventive online tools and services as well as collaborative specialists in education and community-building, they participate in program activities and development.
Organizers say the network’s three major streams will cover:
- Tech Literacy – increasing seniors’ digital skills and knowledge, with specific programming for Indigenous populations and isolated communities
- Tech for Health and Daily Living – providing access to secure self-help, professional help, telehealth and other health-related and age-in-place digital knowledge and services
- Tech Talent – building on the qualifications, experience and work ethic of Canadian seniors for post-retirement careers in technology, healthcare, and finance.
Recognizing that seniors can be not just a target market for consumer products and services, but also a pool of experienced and educated workers, Bill VanGorder, CARP’s Chief Operating Officer, noted that “…seniors are an untapped resource for the technology industry and the job market… [W]ith our Virtual Network Collaboration Partners, we’re building a package of life-long learning and age-in-place innovations and breaking down barriers for a more diverse and qualified multi-generational remote workforce.”
CARP says it has the technologies, leadership and support, as well as advisors, trainers, mentors and potential employers in place to support the program. The steering committee includes:
Teri Marlene Prince is founder, CEO and President of Terida, an award-winning international IT solutions organization based in Toronto; its cloud-based CLASsoft RegTech Platform serves as the secure front-end engine for all sign-in credentialling, participant communications and project workflows for the Virtual Networks.
With more than 40 years of IT experience, Prince has led Terida since its start-up in 2001, taking executive responsibility for Terida’s corporate alliances, contracts, projects, security and IT direction. Because of its ownership, share structure and management, Terida is an accredited woman-owned-small-business enterprise (or WOSB) under the NAICS code classification system.
Terida technology partner Syngrafii Inc. will see its digital e-signing and authentication platform used by program participants. Syngrafii was originally founded in 2003 by renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood and Matthew Gibson: the LongPen concept they developed for virtual author’s book tours grew into a portfolio of more than 45 granted and pending applications for related communications and video connectivity tools. In 2020, Syngrafii rebranded its signing solutions as the iinked platform, used for the remote execution of forensically defensible signed documents across many business sectors.Anna Forgione is Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at D2L, the Kitchener, ON-based learning technology company, which will deliver the CARP training through its popular e-learning platform, Brightspace.
The learning management system (LMS) is a software application developed for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs. Students, teachers and parents can interact through its learning portal. The program is in use globally, and in many Canadian school boards, including Calgary, Peel District and Toronto, among others.
“At D2L, we are committed to accessibility in learning – and to deliver a learning experience that meets the needs of all people, regardless of age or ability,” said steering committee member Forgione when the project was announced. “We are thrilled to join the Tech Consortium Virtual Networks to help drive technology literacy and empower seniors through our learning innovation platform, Brightspace.”
Also on the CARP Senior-Tech Virtual Network steering committee is Stephen J. Augustine, the Hereditary Chief of the Mi’Kmaq Grand Council, and (Retired) Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs at Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University (CBU). He will lead the project’s Indigenous communities’ collaboration network.
Intersecting with the development of the Senior-Tech Virtual Network is the opening at CBU of the Centre of Excellence for Healthy Aging.
In its inaugural project, the Centre will work with the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) as a partner in a national study designed to reduce risk factors for dementia. They will work with people aged 60-85 across Canada using an online program called Brain Health PRO (BHPro); launched at the University of British Columbia, it is used to deliver interactive education and activities to empower older adults to improve their physical and mental health.
Participants receive portable EEG headsets that measure their brain activity during sleep and accelerometers to track their physical activity. CBU’s Centre of Excellence for Healthy Aging will coordinate the research in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, with partner institutions leading the work in other provinces.
Meanwhile, in August the inaugural CARP Tech Consortium Virtual Network program “From Cards to Cloud, CARP Conversations with Canadian Seniors in IT and Cyber” was planned ahead of the Virtual Network registration roll-out to Canadian seniors and participating organizations and corporations, to begin this fall.
CARP reports it has submitted an application for project funding to the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario Jobs and Growth Fund.
CARP operates under a unique business model, with business affiliation with Canadian company ZoomerMedia and its multiple media platforms.