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Civic Impact

Planning for Toronto's senior population

Canada’s senior population is growing. And it’s growing fast. 
According to a 2011 report released by Ontario’s Ministry of Longterm Care, Living Longer, Living Well, Ontarians aged 65 years and older represent 14.6 per cent of the province's population. And the number of Ontarians in that age bracket is expected to double over the next two decades.
In January of 2013, based on the information in the 2011 report, the province unveiled it's new Ontario Seniors Strategy.
Among other things, the plan calls for provincial and municipal focus on creating AFCs--or Age Friendly Communities.
And finally, earlier this month, the province released a follow-up guide for cities outlining just what that entails. 
The Age-Friendly Community Planning Guide, released by the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat, focuses on improving local health-care services, improving safety, and making changes to the built environment to build better communities. 
Though larger investments in health and social programs are necessary, the big lesson from the new report is that small improvements can go a long way.
Reducing high curbs, engaging in outreach to socially isolated seniors, and even just improving transit to retail centres can dramatically improve the quality of life for a population who may have reduced mobility, or reduced finances. 
According to the new guide, Toronto's robust Senior Strategy, which passed unanimously in council earlier this year, is already a good first step to improving the quality of life for the city's senior residents. Toronto's strategy includes 91 recommended actions, among them better staff training on best practices for communicating with vulnerable older adults and developing senior-friendly public education for homeless.
"Ontario has a plan to address the needs of our aging population," stated Mario Sergio, Minister of Seniors Affairs in a press release. "Together with our community partners, seniors and their families, we are creating and sustaining supportive environments that help Ontario seniors live active, safe and meaningful lives." 

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Ontario Seniors' Secretariat 
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