By; Bob Delaney, Member of Provincial parliament, Mississauga-Streetsville
About one in 9 of Ontario’s seniors lives in Mississauga and Brampton. Today, Ontario’s services to them just took a progressive step forward. Ontario unveiled the Aging with Confidence plan.
Aging with Confidence is a major overhaul and expansion of many programs aimed at serving seniors. It includes $15 million investment in housing in the next two years; unlocking surplus Ontario-owned land; new mixed-use housing development; a free high-dose flu vaccine targeted at protecting seniors from the seasonal flu; 5,000 new long-term care beds in the next four years; more care to long-term care residents; and expanding house calls to include nurses, social workers, therapists and other providers.
Social interaction is something seniors frequently ask about. Aging with Confidence supports learning and mentorship between youth and seniors. Youth volunteers can also assist seniors with their grasp of today’s information technology. Seniors continue to embrace the web at rapid rates. Seniors can get help with on-line protection and etiquette, how to access information, completing electronic forms, as well as today’s staple tasks: e-mail, social media and how to best use a mobile phone.
The number of seniors in Ontario will double to 4.6 million in the next generation. Ontario will continue to be the best place in the world to grow older. Aging with Confidence focuses on what seniors say they care about most: living independently; staying connected; social, and active. To ensure communities like Mississauga are ready for the changing realities of an aging population, the plan also expands the number of long-term care beds and increases staffing levels and support for long-term care home residents.
The new action plan offers:
A one-stop website (ontario.ca/AgingWell) 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 can also get information over the phone in more than 150 languages;
- An annual high-dose influenza vaccine, targeted to protect seniors, free of charge as part of the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program in 2018;
- Support for “naturally occurring” retirement communities by investing more than $15 million over two years in 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 the risk of social isolation among mature adults.
- 5,000 new long-term care beds in the next four years, and 15 million more hours of nursing, personal support and therapeutic care annually for residents in long-term care 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 well is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change.