Muskoka Chapter: CARP exposes struggles of seniors in Muskoka

Click here to read ‘CARP exposes struggles of seniors in Muskoka‘ by Alison Brownlee  –, August 5, 2015

LAKE OF BAYS – It is not easy to be a senior in Muskoka.

Shelley Raymond, chair for the Muskoka Canadian Association of Retired Persons, made a presentation to Township of Lake of Bays council at its meeting on July 21 about the struggles seniors living in the region face.

“Muskoka is often viewed by our friends to the south as a rich and prosperous community. However, that is not necessarily true,” said Raymond.

She noted that permanent residents have an average annual income of under $37,000, while 71 per cent of permanent households in the region have an income of less than $40,000 per year.

And she mentioned there was a housing issue, too.

“The average price to purchase a home in Muskoka has risen by 40 per cent in the last 10 years alone making homeownership for many an impossible dream,” she said. “Almost 25 per cent of Muskokans spend 30 per cent or more of their total household income on shelter, which, according to the 2011 Census, is an indicator to community poverty.”

She noted local builders and developers benefit most from the seasonal cottage industry, which leaves little incentive for affordable housing construction. That has left 628 people on an affordable housing wait list with wait times of three to five years for shelter, she said.

She said the chapter was more than a social club – it would focus on national issues such as health, pension reform, seniors’ rights, ageism, financial security and elder abuse.

But, she said, it would also focus on regional issues such as affordable housing, area hospitals, health-care resources, mental health, transportation and nutrition.

She said the aim was to strengthen the voice of seniors.

“Together we can strengthen and influence policies and procedures,” said Raymond. “Ninety-four per cent of seniors vote and their issues are relevant and need to be addressed at all levels of government.”

She said seasonal residents, many of whom plan to retire here, must be engaged as well.

She urged the township to consider the creation of a senior advisory committee “so that the needs of your senior population are heard locally.”

And she asked the township to raise the CARP flag at its municipal office in recognition of Seniors’ Day on Oct. 1.

“It is a good reminder of the issues and challenges we will all be facing as we move through these changing times,” she said.

She added the Muskoka CARP chapter has about 1,200 members and encouraged those interested to attend its meetings or visit its website at

She said the next membership and marketplace meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 at James Place in Bracebridge. The topic is the national dementia strategy with guest speaker Karen Quemby from the Muskoka Alzheimer’s Society.

Mayor Bob Young thanked Raymond for her presentation and expressed his appreciation for it before reading a motion to recognize Oct. 1, 2015, as Seniors’ Day.

Council supported the motion while approving the installation of the Muskoka Canadian Association of Retired Persons flag at the township office that day.