The case for a seniors vote
The generation that raised their families in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are in their golden years. About half the baby boom generation are now in their senior years. One in six Ontarians is past the age of 65.
Ontario is Canada’s most generous and compassionate place to be a senior. Let’s review what has been done in the past 15 years, and what new initiatives Ontario’s Liberals have planned for the next few years.
Progress to date
- Ontario has reduced residential electricity bills by 25 percent, on average, with the Ontario Fair Hydro Plan;
- The Ontario Trillium Benefit includes a seniors’ rent and property tax credit, along with an energy tax credit and a sales tax credit, geared to income. You get it monthly automatically, by direct deposit to your bank account, as long as you ensure that you file an income tax return, from which your Ontario Trillium Benefit is calculated;
- Implemented the Ontario Seniors’ Public Transit Tax Credit;
- Ontario was Canada’s leader in getting the first significant Canada Pension Plan enhancement in 50 years;
- The Province removed the Ontario Drug Benefit Program deductible, and reduced the co-payment for 44,000 low-income seniors;
- Ontario introduced the free shingles vaccine for seniors aged 65-70;
- The Province supported age-friendly communities through the Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program, which has provided $1.5 million in funding over two years for 56 projects in 85 communities across Ontario. Eighteen of these communities have now been designated World Health Organization (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities;
- Ontario launched a Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse;
- See a list of different grants available to seniors’ organizations;
- The publication A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario, is kept up-to-date, and is available in 16 languages.
New seniors’ benefits in Ontario’s 2018-19 Budget
- About 60 per cent of seniors do not have a plan that covers dental services. The Province will introduce a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program for individuals and their families who do not have coverage from an extended health plan, starting in summer 2019. This program would reimburse participants for up to 80 percent of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses, up to an annual maximum of $400 for singles and $600 for couples;
- To help seniors live healthy, independent, active and socially connected lives, Ontario will invest $1 billion over three years, beginning in 2019–20, in a Seniors’ Healthy Home Program, providing up to $750 for every eligible household led by a senior 75 years or older, to help offset such costs home maintenance costs as maintenance, snow removal and other qualifying costs;
- OHIP+ will be expanded to include free medication for seniors, beginning in August 2019. Every person aged 65 and above in Ontario receiving prescription medications
through the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program will do so at no cost. The annual deductible and co‐payment under the ODB program will be eliminated, so no senior has to be out‐of‐pocket to pay for eligible medicines, or choose between care and other life essentials;
- In addition to the development of 30,000 long‐term care beds over 10 years announced in fall 2017, the 2018-19 Budget proposes $300 million over the next three years in long‐term care homes, which includes increased care hours and the hiring of more nurses and personal support workers (PSWs);
- In November 2017, as part of Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors, the Province announced that 5,000 new long‐term care beds would be created by 2022 and more than 30,000 over the next decade. These new beds are in addition to the 30,000 existing beds already being redeveloped;
- Continuing to respond to elder abuse with improved access to community services and
supporting the delivery of public education and service provider training;
- The Province is also helping lower-income seniors to live independently and receive assistance with health care or daily activities such as bathing or meal preparation, by providing 200 new rent subsidies to provide access to affordable housing, as well as home and community care;
- As part of Aging with Confidence, Ontario is also investing $6 million over three years for expanded access to house calls for seniors, including visits by professional care providers such as social workers, therapists and nurses. With this investment, seniors who are ill will not need to travel to their health care providers;
- Ontario is expanding the Seniors Community Grant program with a new stream focused on supporting projects that are more regional or provincial in scope. This year will see close to 250 projects funded, including more than 30 of the new larger capacity initiatives. These projects will provide programs and activities to 75,000 Ontario seniors;
- Health sector expense is projected to be higher by $357 million, primarily due to additional investments in hospitals to reduce emergency department wait times, and in home and community care to expand services to meet rising demand from seniors and clients with complex needs;
- A new five‐year $40 million Community Transportation Grant Program to help municipalities will make it more convenient for seniors, students, persons living with disabilities and others to access essential services within their communities, connect with other transportation services, and travel between cities and towns.