2016 Policy Address by Chief Executive (7)

VII. Responding to Population Ageing

163. The proportion of elderly population aged 65 or above will increase from 15%, or 1.07 million, in 2014 to 36%, or 2.58 million, in 2064.  At the same time, our labour force will decrease continuously from 3.6 million in 2014 to 3.11 million in 2064.

164. The Government is tackling ageing population in five ways, namely unleashing the potential of the local labour force, nurturing local manpower, attracting talent from outside Hong Kong, fostering a supportive environment to form a family, and active ageing.  Apart from the package of measures announced in my last Policy Address, I propose to make greater efforts attracting talent and building an age-friendly environment.

Attracting Talent to Work in Hong Kong

165. The Government has launched a number of measures to refine the existing talent admission arrangements.  The pilot scheme to facilitate the return of the second generation of Hong Kong emigrants for employment has been well received.  The Government plans to set up a dedicated information platform for the second generation of Hong Kong emigrants, Hong Kong students educated in overseas tertiary institutions and overseas professionals to provide them with employment information.

Building an Age-friendly Environment

166. An ageing population will bring extra financial burden to the areas of retirement protection, medical care and elderly services.  The Commission on Poverty is collecting public views on improving retirement protection, and the Elderly Commission has started to plan elderly services in the medium and long term.  The Government has also drawn up a blueprint for hospital development.

167. Elderly people of the new generation will be healthier, more energetic and better educated.  They are fully capable of making further contributions to the community.  The Government will make continuous efforts to develop Hong Kong into an age-friendly city and promote active ageing.

Providing the Elderly with Safe and Easy Access

168. The Government is progressively enhancing barrier-free access facilities at public walkways under the Universal Accessibility Programme.  Having completed more than 20 projects, the Government will press ahead with the remainder of about 180 projects in all 18 districts, including the three priority projects identified by each District Council (DC).  It is expected that about 80% of the projects will be completed in phases within three years.  From the fourth quarter of this year, the Government will again invite the DCs to further nominate not more than three existing walkways in each district for the second phase of the programme.  The walkways eligible for consideration by the DCs will no longer be confined to public walkways maintained by the Highways Department, provided that certain criteria are met.

169. Slopes and staircases are a common sight in Hong Kong.  The Government will strive to take forward in the fourth quarter of this year the construction of three lift and pedestrian walkway systems in Tsing Yi, Kwai Chung and Kowloon City, and build an elevated walkway in Tseung Kwan O and a footbridge in Tsuen Wan to provide convenient access for the public.

170. The Government will invite DCs to nominate suitable major walkways on which covers are to be provided.  It is expected that construction will begin in 2018.  The Government will also examine the use of information technology to allow longer pedestrian green time at road junctions for the elderly and the needy.  Moreover, a new interface and new functions will be introduced to the HKeTransport app of the Transport Department to make it more age-friendly.

Additional Outdoor Seating and Other Facilities for the Elderly

171. The Government will provide additional chairs or priority seats for the elderly in existing public facilities such as markets, swimming pools and sports centres, and incorporate more age-friendly design when planning and constructing new public space and facilities.

172. Apart from fitting public toilets with non-slip surfaces, auto-sensor water taps and handrails according to prevailing design standards, the Government will install additional age-friendly facilities where practicable, and consider providing larger toilet compartments in newly-built public toilets for priority use by elderly people.

Providing a Safe and Comfortable Home Environment for the Elderly

173. Currently, around 40% of the elderly live in PRH estates.  Over the years, a universal design has been adopted for newly-built PRH units, which includes widening the flat entrance, kitchen and bathroom doors, as well as using safer materials such as non-slip floor tiles.  Hence, residents can safely live in the same flat even in their old age.  For eligible elderly tenants living in old PRH blocks, the Housing Authority will modify the facilities of their flats to cater for their needs.

174. The HKHS is implementing the Elderly Safe Living Scheme in five districts, including Wan Chai, Yau Tsim Mong and Sham Shui Po, to give advice to elderly people living in private buildings on ways to enhance home safety.  HKHS occupational therapists will pay home visits to assess and advise on the home environment and health conditions of the elderly.  The services offered under the scheme are free of charge, and elderly owners can decide whether or not to engage a contractor to carry out the proposed works.  Eligible elderly owners who cannot afford the maintenance costs may apply for a maximum grant of $40,000 under the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners.

175. The Housing Authority also plans to increase the provision of recreational facilities for the elderly in PRH estates with more elderly residents, or change the use or design of public space in those estates to meet tenants' needs.  After reviewing their effectiveness, the Housing Authority will extend the arrangements to other estates.

Design Manual and Long-term Planning to Meet the Needs of the Elderly

176. Most of the above-mentioned facilities catering for the abilities and daily needs of the elderly have been included in dedicated chapters of the Design Manual.  The manual serves as a guideline on top of statutory provisions to encourage private property developers to create a more pleasant and safer environment for the elderly.  The Buildings Department will from time to time review the Design Manual and recommend updates for the reference of different sectors.

177. The study "Hong Kong 2030+" will examine the impact of the increasing elderly population on land demand for housing, healthcare services and elderly care facilities, and explore, based on the age-friendly criteria, ways to plan the indoor and outdoor environment to cater for the housing and activity needs of elders.  The Government will continue to reserve sites for elderly care facilities.

Digital Inclusion

178. To help elderly people integrate in an increasingly digital world, the Government has financed the development of the eElderly website providing information about elderly services.  The Government also promotes the adoption of barrier-free website design and mobile apps by public and private sectors for the convenience of the elderly.  Funding has been provided for developing mobile apps to offer cognitive training for elderly people suffering from dementia and to help the elderly search for information on activities available.

Cross-sectoral Collaboration

179. The Government will join forces with other organisations, such as the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the DCs, to address the demands of the elderly.  In the coming year, additional resources will be provided for DCs to promote the building of age-friendly communities at the district level.


180. The Standard Working Hours Committee completed an extensive public consultation exercise and a comprehensive survey on working hours in 2014.  With reference to the findings of these two exercises, the committee will conduct a second round consultation shortly and submit a report as soon as possible.

181. The Government has provided about 1 200 additional places of extended hours service in child care centres for children aged below six.  Resources were also allocated to over 300 aided standalone child care centres and occasional child care service units to enhance supervisory and administrative support.  This will help unleash the working potential of women.


182. Following the extensive application to their work of the Gender Mainstreaming Checklist by government bureaux and departments, the Government will implement a pilot scheme to encourage NGOs in the social welfare sector to refer to the checklist and apply gender mainstreaming when formulating policies and programmes.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:44