Making Ontario the Best Place to Age Backgrounder
January 2015 marks the second anniversary of Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors. The government is achieving results in helping seniors stay active and safe, while improving access to high-quality health care. Progress made over the past year for seniors, their families and their caregivers includes:
Seniors Community Grant Program
- Ontario is investing $1 million in the Seniors Community Grant Program, for a second year to help more seniors stay connected to their communities. The program is accepting applications from individuals representing non-incorporated seniors groups, incorporated not-for-profit organizations, municipalities, Local Service Boards and Aboriginal groups between January 28 and March 27, 2015.
- The program has previously supported 179 projects and helped more than 43,000 seniors stay connected, active and involved in their communities by encouraging greater social inclusion, volunteerism and community engagement.
Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program
- The $1.5 million program provides municipalities with funding to plan services and programs that help seniors live in a secure environment, enjoy active lives and participate more fully in their communities.
- Age-friendly planning can help communities assess their needs and can eventually lead to significant local improvements such as installing automatic doors, adding benches in parks and roadways, raising awareness of local services like transportation or installing count-down timers at crosswalks.
Elderly Persons Centres
- The province renewed its $11.5 million investment in 264 centres across Ontario, helping the centres maintain their operations and undertake special projects. Elderly Persons Centres provide social and recreational programs that promote wellness for seniors and offer them places to gather for activities like fitness classes, computer classes, and arts and crafts.
Finding Your Way Program
- Ontario, in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, expanded the Finding Your Way program, to help people with dementia, their families and caregivers prepare for incidents where seniors may wander or go missing. The multi-lingual program now offers resources in eight languages (English, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) with more languages to come.
Retirement Homes Act
- More than 700 retirement homes are now licensed and subject to new care and safety standards. In the past year, the province brought additional regulations into force including the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority’s formal complaints process, the Risk Officer position, and, while not part of the Retirement Homes Act, new fire safety requirements for retirement homes.
Family Caregiver Leave
- People in Ontario can now take up to eight weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to provide care or support to a family member with a serious medical condition. This legislation allows caregivers to focus their attention on what matters most - providing care to their loved ones - without fear of losing their jobs.
Community Transportation Pilot Grant Program
- This program provides funds to municipalities to improve community transportation services for seniors, persons living with disabilities, youth and other members of the community who need transportation.
Other government initiatives to help seniors include:
Community Paramedicine Program
- Ontario invested $6 million in the expansion and development of 30 community paramedicine programs across the province to improve access to care at home and in the community for patients with chronic conditions, especially seniors.
Increasing access to physiotherapy across Ontario
- Ontario is investing $156 million annually to support greater access to physiotherapy and exercise, as well as falls prevention services to more than 200,000 additional seniors and eligible patients. This funding is also helping residents in long-term care homes receive physiotherapy that best suits their needs and supports their rehabilitation and quality of life.
Health Links Initiative
- Ontario is taking steps to further transform the delivery of local health care with the creation of Health Links across the province. Since the program launched in December 2012, sixty-nine Health Links have been established to provide Ontario’s most complex patients faster access to the most appropriate care in the most appropriate place. Health Links are supported by teams of health care providers at all levels of the health care system.
Laura Sylvis Communications Branch
Celeste Bottero Minister's Office