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'Aging With Confidence': Ontario Liberals unveil $155M seniors' plan

With an election looming next spring, Premier Kathleen Wynne has unveiled a new $155-million “seniors’ strategy.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa speak at Trillium Health Partners' Mississauga Hospital on May 1, 2017. The Liberal government is pledging to improve services for older Ontarians with a slew of measures dubbed “Aging With Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors.”

Rob Beintema / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa speak at Trillium Health Partners' Mississauga Hospital on May 1, 2017. The Liberal government is pledging to improve services for older Ontarians with a slew of measures dubbed “Aging With Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors.”

With an election looming next spring, Premier Kathleen Wynne has unveiled a new $155-million “seniors’ strategy.”

The Liberal government is pledging to improve services for older Ontarians with a slew of measures packaged together in a campaign-ready initiative dubbed “Aging With Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors.”

It includes a website for seniors to access information easily on drug coverage, recreation programs, volunteer opportunities, tax credits and powers of attorney, among other things.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Tuesday there will be a new free high-dose flu shot especially for seniors starting next fall.

The government will also spend more than $15 million over the next two years to upgrade apartment buildings that have emerged as “naturally occurring” retirement communities because so many seniors choose to reside in them.

Speaking at Hamilton’s Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre, Wynne drew upon her own experience coping with aging parents.

“My mom is 89 and my dad is 91, so my family and I know, on a very personal level, how important it is to Ontario’s two million seniors, and their families and friends, that we empower older people to navigate this next phase of life with dignity and as much independence as possible,” she said.

“Through ‘Aging With Confidence,’ we are doing our very best to help seniors continue to live life to the fullest as part of Ontario’s healthy and vibrant communities.”

Some $155 million will be spent over three years on the improvements. Finance Minister Charles Sousa is to release further details in next week’s fall economic statement.

The moves come as Ontarians get ready for an election on June 7, 2018.

Seniors Affairs Minister Dipika Damerla said the funding will help create 5,000 new long-term care beds over next four years and add 15 million hours annually of personal support work, and therapeutic and nursing care for residents of those homes.

Damerla said the government hopes to open more than more than 30,000 new long-term care beds over the next decade to help Ontario’s aging population.

“Seniors have spent a lifetime contributing to their communities and to the economy. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that their changing needs are met,” she said.

It’s expected the number of seniors in Ontario will double to 4.6 million people over the next quarter century, which will put a huge demand on services that are already stretched.

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