November 7, 2017
Every person in Ontario should benefit from the opportunities the province has to offer, no matter their age. That’s why the province is taking action to make sure that all seniors are able to access the support they need at every stage of their life.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre in Hamilton today to announce Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. The plan empowers people to make the choices that are right for them when it comes to their care, their independence and how they access government services — whether that’s finding ways to keep up an active lifestyle or getting the support needed to live at home longer.
“CARP is pleased by the announcement today to improve access to long-term care, provide additional home care hours, and expand seniors’ supportive housing across Ontario. Everyone should have the right to live with dignity and peace of mind, no matter their age or health. Today’s announcement is a key step to making that a reality for Ontario residents as we age,” said Wanda Morris, CARP’s VP Advocacy.
CARP member reaction on social media was mixed. Many remain skeptical about the implementation of these measures and multiple comments noted that this plan is long overdue. CARP members and concerned citizens alike urged the advocacy association to continue its pressure on the government to improve supports for seniors both in Ontario and across Canada. CARP is committed to doing so.
The number of seniors in Ontario is forecast to double to 4.6 million within the next 25 years — and Ontario aims to become the best place in the world to grow older. Aging with Confidence focuses on areas that seniors say they care about most, including living independently for as long as possible and staying connected through social, recreational and volunteer activities. To ensure Ontario is ready for the changing realities of an aging population, the plan also substantially expands the number of long-term care (LTC) beds across the province, while increasing staffing levels and support for LTC home residents.
The new action plan offers:
- A one-stop website where seniors — about 70 per cent of whom go online every day — can find information about tax credits, drug coverage, powers of attorney, recreation programs and more. Seniors will also be able to get information over the phone in more than 150 languages
- An annual high-dose influenza vaccine, targeted to protect seniors, which will be available free of charge as part of the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program, starting in the 2018-19 flu season
“We’re delighted the government of Ontario has committed to providing free, high-dose flu shots to older Ontario residents. We commend the government for this investment and believe it will not only reduce healthcare costs but prevent unnecessary suffering among Ontario seniors,” said Wanda Morris, VP of advocacy. CARP has been calling for funded, best in class vaccines for Ontario seniors, including the high-dose flu shot.
- Support for “naturally occurring” retirement communities by investing more than $15 million over two years for apartment buildings or housing developments where many seniors already live close to one another
- More volunteering opportunities connecting seniors and youth, fostering learning and mentorship while reducing older people’s risk of social isolation
- 5,000 new LTC beds over the next four years and 15 million more hours of nursing, personal support and therapeutic care annually for residents in LTC homes, as well as a 10-year plan to create more than 30,000 new beds over the next decade, working with the long-term care sector.
Helping seniors live their best life is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.
- Ontario is investing $155 million over three years through the action plan.
- Older adults make up Ontario’s fastest-growing age group. There are now more people in Ontario 65 or older than under 15.
- Ontario’s approach builds on a number of recent initiatives, including supporting 40 new Seniors Active Living Centres and implementing a Dementia Strategy, which will improve access to quality care and supports for people living with dementia and their care partners.
- Almost half of seniors are worried about being alone. Social isolation is a risk factor for an array of negative outcomes among older people, including elder abuse, a higher risk of falls, hospitalization and depression.
- Aging with Confidence builds on Ontario’s 2013 Action Plan for Seniors.
- In January, Ontario created a standalone Ministry of Seniors Affairs to strengthen efforts to improve seniors’ quality of life.
“My mom is 89 and my dad is 91 — so my family and I know, on a very personal level, how important it is to Ontario’s two million seniors, and their families and friends, that we empower older people to navigate this next phase of life with dignity and as much independence as possible. Through Aging With Confidence, we are doing our very best to help seniors continue to live life to the fullest as part of Ontario’s healthy and vibrant communities.” Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
“Over the past year I’ve travelled across the province meeting a diverse array of seniors, who are as vibrant as the province itself. Aging with Confidence is a broad plan to support seniors at all stages of life. Seniors have spent a lifetime contributing to their communities and to the economy. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that their changing needs are met.” Dipika Damerla, Minister of Seniors Affairs
“After a lifetime of working hard and building Ontario up to the thriving society it is today, we owe it to Ontario seniors to support healthy aging and ensure they enjoy a high quality of life. By investing in the health care services and supports that ensure seniors stay independent, healthy and active, all of Ontario will continue to benefit from the tremendous knowledge, compassion and experience that seniors have to share.” Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care