Ensure that the Senior's Strategy 2.0 to make Toronto a more age-friendly city is properly funded and implemented
For the first time in history, there are now more Torontonians aged 65+ than children aged 15 and below. The number of people in Toronto aged 65 and over is expected to almost double by 2041 and nationally, seniors are projected to constitute one-quarter of the Canadian population by 2036.
Josh has had the privilege of serving as Toronto's Seniors Advocate since 2011. His first initiative was to request a comprehensive strategy to support older adults in our city. In 2013 the City's first Senior's Strategy was adopted unanimously by Council based on 8 key pillars:
After 4 years, 90 of the 91 recommended actions have been implemented. As a result of the Strategy, Toronto was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Global Age-Friendly City. But there is is more to do to support our seniors.
Adopted unanimously by Council in Spring 2018, Senior's Strategy 2.0 provides 27 new recommendations that Josh will work to implement, including:
- Creating up to 40 new Seniors Active Living Centers (SALCs) across Toronto
Formerly known as Elderly Persons Centres, SALCs offer social, cultural, learning and recreational programs for seniors that promote health and well-being. These programs offer seniors a range of activities tailored to the unique interests and needs of the community - from exercise classes to music clubs, workshops on video editing to the use of community kitchens, along with social outings.
- Senior-friendly outdoor fitness equipment in the design and refurbishment of select parks
Installing outdoor fitness equipment has been recognized as a global best practice to promote active aging. New outdoor fitness equipment will be considered in the design and refurbishment of parks throughout Toronto.
- Create new affordable housing and fund housing repairs and accessibility modifications for seniors
Too many of our seniors have been priced out of their homes as a result of Toronto's spiralling rental market. As of 2018, about one-third of households on the City's social housing waitlist are seniors. Investments in the creation of new seniors rental homes and repairs/accessibility modifications for senior homeowners and renters are needed.
- HomeShare pilot program to connect overhoused seniors with underhoused students.
Some Toronto seniors find themselves overhoused and in circumstances where some assistance with light household tasks and companionship would help them to continue to more successfully age in place. This program would facilitate matches between interested seniors and university graduate students seeking affordable housing. Successful matches could help to promote social connectedness, intergenerational and linguistic connections, as well as promote financial independence and personal autonomy for seniors. The program would have the important ancillary benefit of creating new housing for young people struggling to afford rent in Toronto.
- Enhance public awareness of property tax deferral and cancellation programs
The rapid increase in housing prices has put a growing number of retired homeowners in a difficult financial position – the value of their principal asset is increasing far more quickly than their incomes, particularly if they are dependent on pensions or financial assets affected by the 2008 recession. As this is a relatively new issue for many, the City’s property tax deferral and cancellation programs are not widely known and therefore accessed less than might be expected
- Identify and install additional Seniors Safety Zones in conjunction with the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.
Seniors are victims to a disproportionate number of traffic fatalities and serious accidents. The current priority for identifying potential Seniors Safety Zones has been to focus on crossings where pedestrian fatalities and accident rates involving older adults have been unusually high. While a positive step, this practice just follows accidents even if there are not any other causal relationships between the deisign of the intersection or the local senior populations. A broader goal, consistent with the current direction of Vision Zero, would be to identify neighbourhoods with a disproportionate representation of seniors, and with wider rights of way that result in higher vehicular speeds.