An interview with Raymond Cho, Ontario Minister of Seniors and Accessibility

In the latest issue of Trillium magazine (Summer 2019, Vol 20, No.1), QCC Executive Director Lesley Brown spoke with both the federal and provincial minsters responsible for seniors to find out what their key objectives that their ministries are working on to address issues for seniors in Canada.  Building dedicated programs that are relevant to seniors is an important area of focus for QCC.

What are the key objectives that your Ministry is working on to address issues for Seniors in Ontario?

We’ve heard that some seniors face financial obstacles from being able to receive the dental care they require. This is why we announced in our provincial budget that we protect what matters most by providing low-income seniors access to quality dental care through a new $90 million, publicly-funded dental care program that will begin in late summer 2019.

We’ve heard that social isolation can become a real issue for seniors as they age.  Providing seniors with access to appropriate programs, services and information can contribute to their overall health and well-being. It can also help reduce social isolation, which is a risk factor for negative health outcomes. I’m pleased to say my ministry funds more than 300 Seniors Active Living Centres programs, which are community-based non-residential programs that promote wellness, social interaction, and education to help seniors stay active, independent and engaged.
Current estimates predict that the seniors population will grow to over 3 million by 2023 – that is about 400,000 more seniors than today. This fundamental change in Ontario’s demographics means new challenges and new opportunities for the province. That is why the Province will be developing a new cross-government strategy to do what’s right for Ontario’s aging population, while growing jobs and the economy.

To develop the strategy, we launched consultations on June 7th to hear from seniors, caregivers and organizations on how the province can best support its aging population. Targeted consultation sessions will run for six weeks. Feedback from these sessions as well as an online survey will help form a strategy to help seniors, which we expect to announce this fall.

 What is most important to you in achieving in your mandate within the senior’s portfolio?

I have the highest regard for seniors and is committed to protecting what matters most to them and their families.

Seniors in Ontario want to remain healthy, active and socially connected within their own communities. That’s why our government is investing $3 million for the Seniors Community Grant program to provide grants to hundreds of non-profit community organizations across the province to co-ordinate and deliver local supports and programs for seniors. We also support more than 300 Seniors Active Living Centres across the province.

As announced in Budget 2019, we are developing a new cross-government strategy to improve the lives of seniors and provide the supports and resources to help them live independently, ensure their safety and security, connect them to the community and help them achieve greater financial security and social connections.

Going forward, I am excited to continue working to help protect what matters most to seniors and their families.

 What types of mechanisms are you using to capture the voice of seniors?

Just recently, on June 7th my ministry announced consultations to hear from seniors, caregivers and organizations on how the province can best support its aging population. Targeted consultation sessions will run for six weeks. Feedback from these sessions as well as an online survey will help form a strategy to help seniors, which we expect to announce this fall.

 Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Our Government is very proud of all the programs and services we provide for seniors in Ontario. I am excited to continue working to help protect what matters most to seniors and their families.

Click here to participate in the online survey until July 19th