Toronto Declaration on Aging and Disability

Toronto Declaration on Aging and Disability

On Thursday, June 28th March of Dimes Canada and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute hosted a special presentation, “International Perspectives on Bridging Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Aging & Disability” presented by Dr. Michelle Putnam, M.G.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Simmons College, School of Social Work, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Following the Growing Older with a Disability Conference, held within the Festival of International Conferences on Caregiving, Disability, Aging & Technology (FICCDAT 2011), an international expert panel was formed to draft the Toronto Declaration. In June, 2011 FICCDAT brought together six concurrent conferences that addressed research, policy and practices that will help an aging population developing disabilities and a population with disabilities that is aging, to live longer and better. 

Building on previous European developments including the Graz Declaration 2006, the Barcelona Declaration 2009 and the Linz Declaration 2011, the Toronto Declaration 2012 addresses the need for collaboration among researchers and practitioners in aging and disability and sets out recommendations that will foster improvements in policies and care. Two other speakers, Dr. Jennifer Mendez, Assistant Professor and Director of Co-Curricular Programs and Dr. Barbara LeRoy, Director, Developmental Disabilities Institute, both of Wayne State University presented on how bridging is being addressed in Europe and Asia and the United States respectively.

The Toronto Declaration is unique in that it brought together experts from around the world to collaborate in acknowledging the need for a paradigm shift, away from two separate disciplines, to recommend bridging between the two fields, aging and disability.

Addressing the challenges of growing older with a disability is of extreme importance in the developed world where the largest cohort in history is living longer than ever before. Demographics also show that medical intervention and health care supports, as well as informal caregiving, technology and public health and services, are enabling people with disabilities to live longer.

Thus, there is a nexus of issues that are the same for people growing older with disabilities and people aging into disability, yet our social policy, research and service environments are typically organized either by age or by onset of disability. Healthy older people with retirement funds generally do not need the income support, health and social service network, but the vast majority of people with disabilities do, and they may need these services before the age of 65. Typically, governments organize and fund services based on age.

Over 50 attendees from a cross-section of community agencies, government offices and academia were on-hand to hear the presentations, and consider how they can directly implement the bridging concept in a Canadian context. The international expert panel that developed the Toronto Declaration urges the organization of care and support along functional need rather than age, and better collaboration among researchers in the two fields.

View the Toronto Declaration. The Declaration has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, Arabic, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Portuguese, German, Russian and Hebrew. Copies are available upon request.


About March of Dimes Canada
March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to close to 50,000 people with disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada. For more information please visit the website or call 1-800-263-3463. In 2011, March of Dimes Canada celebrates its 60th Anniversary.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab)
Toronto Rehab is one of North America’s leading rehabilitation sciences centres, Toronto Rehab is revolutionizing rehabilitation by helping people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age related health conditions to live active, healthier more independent lives. Affiliated with the University of Toronto as a teaching and research hospital, Toronto Rehab integrates innovative patient care, groundbreaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system. Find out how at

For more information or to book an interview with a keynote speaker, please contact:
Ruth Kapelus
Media and Public Relations
March of Dimes Canada
416-425-3463 ext. 7258 ​

Share via:
Click to Share on Facebook

Recommend and Like:

join our Annual Online Fundraising Campaign

Join our Mailing List

Join our Mailing list and receive our March of Dimes Dime Times Newsletter. Simply enter your name and email address after you click the button below to start receiving our newsletter


Imagine Canada Logo
The Standards Program Trustmark is a mark of Imagine Canada​ used under licence by March of Dimes Canada.