Progress report for seniors cites the good, the bad and the challenges facing Toronto|
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The new report launched today, Rebuilding Respect: A Progress Report for
Seniors, tells a compelling story of the good things the City is doing to
improve the lives of seniors, but it also includes the other side of the coin -
the outstanding problems and the challenges the City of Toronto must face if it
truly wants to make Toronto a city for all ages.
The progress report reviews the steps the City has taken to respond to the 55
recommendations made by the Seniors' Task Force in 1999, and sets the stage for
the next steps the City has to consider. The report also paints a statistical
picture of seniors in Toronto today.
The report cites many examples of successful initiatives by City departments,
agencies, boards and commissions that improve the lives of Toronto's seniors.
Examples include an array of cost-effective services for seniors offered by
Toronto Public Health, the ongoing implementation of the oversized street sign
program (which is making it easier for all citizens to identify streets),
enhancements to life-long learning programs at the Toronto Public Library, and
the new 2-1-1 phone service that improves seniors' access to information on
community services and resources.
Despite all of the good news stories the progress report includes, it also
unearths a darker side of life for many Toronto seniors. For example, over
12,600 seniors were on the Toronto Social Housing Connections waiting list as
of June 2002. Seven out of every 10 seniors in Ontario do not have dental
insurance. Approximately 6,000 Toronto seniors aged 65 or over are hospitalized
each year due to falls. While investment in prevention initiatives provides a
great value for a small cost, such initiatives are not being sufficiently
funded, resulting in a need for more costly treatments.
"Whoever called them the golden years was wrong," says Toronto Seniors'
Advocate Anne Johnston (Councillor, Ward 16 Eglinton-Lawrence). "I look at all
of these really big issues and I believe they should be called the grey years.
There is nothing golden about illness, lack of services, worries over housing
or concerns over safety. I really am pleased to see that some significant
progress has been made and that seniors are getting a voice in the City of
Toronto. But the ranks of seniors are growing and their voices need to grow to
make sure that Toronto maintains its commitment to be a city for all ages."
The progress report outlines a large number of challenges facing the City. For
example, City Council is strongly urged to incorporate the needs of seniors as
it develops a new Pedestrian Master Plan and to support a call for a special
federal-provincial funding strategy to create affordable housing for seniors.
As well, the City is urged to continue to support and advocate health programs
that focus on preventing illness and promoting health, rather than on
more-expensive options that focus on treating the disease after it has occurred.
The report states that the City needs to continue to act as an advocate with
the provincial and federal governments, for the authority, the funds and the
ongoing funding commitment to create and maintain critical seniors' services.
At the same time, the City is encouraged to continue to look within, to support
and enhance services that are becoming more and more critical as the number of
seniors in our city grows.
But the City cannot do this work alone. For these steps to work, for the
advocacy to be effective, the City is depending on the continued commitment of
the Toronto Seniors' Assembly, along with many other organizations and citizens
that all share a dedication to making Toronto a city for all ages.