Member of Parliament Pam Damoff welcomed the Hon. Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas and Minister of Seniors, at a Seniors Roundtable in Oakville yesterday. MP Damoff and Minister Tassi met with local seniors and those who work closely with seniors in the community to discuss issues important to seniors and how the federal government can best support them.
When she was named Minister of Seniors, the Prime Minister asked MP Tassi to travel around the country to listen to seniors and their issues, and hear what challenges they’re facing and what opportunities they have. Seniors want to remain active, contributing citizens of their communities. Some of the issues they face include income security, improving quality of life, and access to housing for seniors. Financial security, elder abuse, senior isolation and access to housing are important issues that have been raised by seniors across the country. As well, access to home care and palliative care has emerged as a key focus for many seniors.
“Our seniors are the backbone of our communities,” said Minister Tassi. “Their contributions must be valued and respected. They have earned and deserve to look forward to their future and feel secure. I am honoured to dedicate myself to this mission with the help of my colleagues, provincial and territorial partners as well as seniors, their families and organizations which work so hard for our seniors.”
The federal government is supporting Canada’s seniors. It has restored the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) from 67 to 65, increased the GIS top up, introduced the country’s first-ever National Housing Strategy, which has a special focus on seniors, and invested in palliative and home care. The government also established the New Horizons for Seniors program, which is designed specifically to fight senior isolation and funds a wide range of activities for seniors by seniors.
The July 2016 increase in the GIS for the lowest-income single seniors improved the financial security for close to 900,000 seniors and ensured future vulnerable seniors do not face higher risks of living in poverty. In Ontario, this change means that close to 290,000 have benefitted from the increase.
At Thursday’s Roundtable, several themes emerged as common concerns for all attendees. Key priority areas identified included health care, home care, income security, affordable housing, transportation, isolation, elder abuse and fraud. Dr. Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton, told Minister Tassi and MP Damoff that the government and society now has an opportunity to start thinking about what human aging really looks like over a lifetime in Canada and work towards building an integrated system of supports and services to support that. “Human aging is diverse and multifaceted and we must move from the medicalization of aging toward a new framework for living and thriving while aging.”
Dr. Edwardh was pleased to see that the federal government is consulting communities across Canada to learn from seniors and their advocates what is needed at local levels. “The federal government needs to view the work being done by community members like us as critical to providing exert advice in developing programming for seniors,” she said.
Minister Tassi assured Roundtable attendees that she will be putting a “seniors lens” on all policies and programs developed by the federal government to examine how all policies and programs affect seniors.
MP Damoff said meeting with groups of active, involved and compassionate seniors who are ready and willing to advise all levels of government on how to best support Canadian seniors is critical to making sure seniors enjoy an excellent quality of life as they age.
“Our seniors have contributed so much to our communities and they have earned and deserve a future that provides security and one to which they can look forward,” said MP Damoff. “They are dynamic, conscientious contributors to our country. The initiatives taken so far by the federal government demonstrate our government’s firm commitment to improving and re-inventing the ways in which we deliver care to seniors to improve their well-being and quality of life.”