SSAI has deep roots in Saskatchewan

Photo Courtesy SSAI. Members from the Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc. gather at the 2023 convention.

Shannon Wright, SSAI Secretary/Treasurer

Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc. (SSAI) is a provincial organization with a long history of advocating for seniors.

SSAI History – Birth of Seniors Voice

Beginning in 1939, Annie Douglas became founding president of Pensioners and Pioneers Number One, the first seniors’ club in Saskatoon, and filled that position for 18 years. She and Mrs. Nurse and an Empire Hotel card-game visitor, Nathan Medd worked together to create he Saskatchewan Old Age pensioners and Pioneers Organization (OAPO) in 1942. Mrs. Douglas was president of the provincial organization for 20 years. When it began, the Provincial’s main objectives were to get an increase in the pension, and to eliminate the means tests.
1945 – Nathan Medd initiated National Pensioners and Seniors Citizens Federation
1950s – presented the original request for universal Medicare to provincial government
1954 – OAPO changed to Pensioners and Senior Citizens Organization (PSCO)
1962 – first government Medicare plan in North America
1972 – Federal New Horizons Program
1977 – Saskatchewan Association of New Horizons Projects

On June 12, 1981 – PSCO and the Saskatchewan Association of New Horizons Projects amalgamated to form the Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc. (SSAI)

Our constitution mentions that when SSAI was formed in 1981, it had a membership of over 25,000 seniors.  In 2016, paid memberships equated to ~4,200 members from 110 clubs. The COVID pandemic really affected seniors clubs all across the province.  Our SSAI membership dipped to 2,300 from 68 clubs in 2021 and has been steadily increasing again – as of Feb 2024, we are currently at just over 3,000 members from 85 clubs.  

Photo submitted by SSAI. A map of all of the different SSAI Clubs in Saskatchewan.

The organization relies on representation from across the province.  Members and clubs should meet annually in their districts to elect a coordinator and within their region to elect a director.  Coordinators and Directors are invited to attend provincial meetings (Regional Directors have a vote at the SSAI Executive board).  SSAI hosts an annual convention – all are welcome to attend.  SSAI clubs forward resolutions to be discussed at convention.  Resolutions that are passed at convention are acted on – i.e. advocating with MLAs and MPs.  The convention features speakers and presentations on a wide variety of topics of interest to seniors and provides an opportunity for members to network.  

SSAI provides an opportunity for seniors from across the province to network and amplify their voice.  The organization will only be as strong as the membership, and it functions because of the seniors who are active in leadership roles. It’s really the members that hold the power to get involved, volunteer, and elect representatives to actively engage at the provincial and national level to speak/act on matters that concern seniors.  It is the SSAI executive board with regional representatives that steers the direction and actions of this provincial organization.  

SSAI is a provincial network of rural seniors clubs and works with other organizations such as Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM), Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA), Seniors Center Without Walls (SCWW), and SSAI is a founding member of the National Pensioners Federation (NPF). All groups work together for the benefit of seniors.