Ontario has 52 cities. Care Watch began its municipal campaign with letters to candidates running for mayor in the largest ones: Barrie, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Hamilton, London, Oshawa, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Windsor. We asked them:
- What would you do to help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive?
- How would you support public health, particularly for older residents?
- How would you promote affordable housing
- How would you promote high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations?
- How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes?
These same questions apply to mayoral candidates throughout Ontario, so you may wish to ask them wherever you live. City councillors are important to policies and services, so don’t forget to ask people running for councillor about what you need and want.
Ask, think, and then vote!
Mayoral Candidate: Miranda Rocca-Circelli
Thank you for this email. I have included my answers below. Please do reach out if you have any questions and or would like further clarification.
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? It is my understanding that Sudbury currently has a senior’s tax grant in place for those senior homeowners who qualify. I would review the criteria with a view to expand the eligibility criteria. I would also propose a senior’s tax increase freeze. Any senior property owner who lives in their home and meets the criteria would have their property taxes frozen on their principal residence for as long as they remain in their principal residence. Once they no longer reside in the home the property taxes would be increased to the current rates.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? I would promote and support all initiatives municipal, provincial, and federal with a goal of promoting public health especially ones that focus on the health of seniors.
Mayoral Candidate: Ejaz Butt
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide some feedback on the important questions you have raised. I will attempt my best to provide my responses in a summary below.
I believe it is important to allow our elders to stay within their homes as long and safely as possible. This would include working with Home and Community Care Support Services to ensure delivery of home and community care such as vaccinations, access to community services, and long-term care home placement. I will continue to work with various educational boards and high schools to promote student volunteerism, especially in support of the elderly. We will also engage various faith-based organizations to ensure that cultural and religious-specific care is provided to our seniors. When it comes to affordable housing, we will look at how existing tax rebates and subsidized housing for the elderly can be optimized. Finally, when it comes to human resources in the healthcare sector in general, we know there is a shortage of nurses and other allied staff and the causes are multifactorial, including due to wages, the pandemic, stress due to resource shortages, etc. We will continue to work with the province and healthcare organizations to improve the working conditions for everyone including home care and community support workers. Thank you.
Mayoral Candidate: Andrea Horwath
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? I will work with city staff and community partners to implement creative initiatives that ensure our city’s structures and services are accessible and inclusive to varying needs and capacities of older adults. I want to acknowledge the incredible, well thought out recommendations laid out in Hamilton’s Age Friendly Plan. As mayor, I will look to expanding and resourcing the initiatives that support access to safe and affordable housing; provide affordable and accessible transportation options; support access to and awareness of health and community programs and services; foster social connection and participation in the community; encourage civic participation, volunteering, and employment among older adults, and improve access to and encourage the use of outdoor spaces.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? By working with council, staff, and community partners to ensure that our public health policies, city structures and services support older adults and allow them to live healthy and independent lives. Other than supporting existing health promoting programs, addressing the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes for our older residents is one way we can support public health. If elected mayor, I would work at improving housing options for seniors; expanding transportation options; ensuring that parks, public buildings, and services are accessible to older residents.
How would you promote affordable housing and high-quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations? If elected as mayor, I will collaborate with non-profit organizations in Hamilton to deliver innovative housing solutions that meet the needs of residents. I will leverage well established relationships at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa to deliver provincial and federal investments to Hamilton through a Team Hamilton approach. I will also ensure that the city taps into available funding from all levels of government for innovative existing affordable housing plans. I will work with other orders of government to make sure that older adults have what they need to stay in their homes, and have access to living options and health supports that promote their independence and privacy as long as possible.
How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes? I have always supported fair wages for workers who provide home care and critical community supports. If elected Mayor, I will leverage the knowledge and experience I have from working at the provincial level to advocate for fair wages for this essential part of Hamilton’s workforce.
Mayoral Candidate: Joe Ingino
Thank you for your recent email. I believe that our seniors/parents are the most precious thing we have on the planet. Without them we would not be on the planet. It is our duty to assure they live their senior years with dignity and respect. Traditionally, families lived together till the end of times. Unfortunately in modern time. We have lost that essence of family and responsibility in some cases.
Situation and circumstances sometime leaves many senior to fend for themselves. As responsible community leaders we must assure that we treat all our seniors as if they are family. With this said. We spend million in fighting foreign wars. We spend billions on go no place project. We need to invest on those that have given their lives for us. Directly or indirectly. It is a pleasure for me to answer your questions and hopefully earn your endorsement.
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? First and foremost I am cleaning our street of crime and create a safe environment for all to enjoy. Subsequently I propose to invest in more senior programs and activities. A mix of senior and youth programs. I would create a hotline where seniors/Citizens could call and report crime. A place they could call if they need a friendly ear to listen to their concern. My office and my phone will always be available to listen with a kind ear and a comforting heart. I would also increase the bus lines and specialized vans in order to make it more easy for seniors to get around. I would negotiate special hydro/gas/utilities in order to offer seniors living alone a break in living costs.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? I strongly believe that anyone over 65 should not have to worry about medical, dental and palliative care. We must invest on those that have invested in making us the society that we are. Senior health should be priority one when it comes to budgets to assist related programs.
How would you promote affordable housing and high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations? I would propose to give property tax breaks to seniors owning a home for more than 25 years. I would give tax breaks to anyone that has their parents living in their home. I would work with the Provincial and Federal governments to assure that substantial number of homes are dedicated to affordable, safe, clean housing. I would regulate the quality of care delivered by not-for-profit and set standards.
How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes? I am a fair wage for a job well done. I would strongly lobby the government to assure that all health care providers are paid in order to be able to sustain themselves and those they love. It is our duty as a community to assure that health care/specially home care workers are well trained and compensated. There should be no reason to pay less for hospital and long term care worker. Same should apply for child care workers. Government needs to step up and stop funding foreign wars and countries.. and invest in our people resources first.
No one should go hungry. No one should have to work and yet live below the poverty line. No senior should go hungry, or without. We are a better country than that.
Mayoral Candidate: Dan Carter
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? The City of Oshawa has excellent seniors’ centres (OSCC 55+) with numerous locations around the city for easy access. As current Mayor, I meet with them regularly to answer their questions and concerns. Throughout COVID, we met via ZOOM. I have addressed many of their concerns from transportation to safety and we have come up with solid solutions. We also had outreach teams that connected with our seniors throughout COVID that amounted in over 40,000 calls/touchpoints.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? We have an Age-Friendly Strategy and Action Plan that aligns with the provincial initiatives. We continue to make strategic investments in programs/services targeted to our older residents. There are 67 action items that have been supported to create a strong and active community for older adults. The Community Safety and Well-being Plan has also identified key priorities and risks for seniors.
How would you promote affordable housing and high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations? When it comes to our long-term care facilities – I am an avid supporter of our non-profit Regionally run facilities. I publicly support not for profit community-based social service delivery programs to keep costs affordable. I also advocated for tax relief programs to help keep seniors in their homes and for assistance programs such as snow removal. As current President of Durham Regional Non-Profit Housing, we continue to create RGI (rent geared to income) units for seniors.
How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes? My position has been quite clear with the province, if we believe that people recover better at home, proper support services must be properly funded and coordinated. Which means, home care staff must be paid accordingly. At this time, that is not the case and is a clear disconnect from the provincial mandate. I will continue to advocate for wage equality.
Mayoral Candidate: Sara Lear
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? I am very interested in home sharing, so allow seniors to age in place (which is my biggest focus). Please refer to this article Canada HOMESHARE (an initiative started in Toronto) which I would like to support here in Oshawa: ‘Like we’re roommates’: How a 79-year-old found company and a little extra help by letting a student move in.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? I would like to see our medical offices better designed so that we can access a variety of services all in one place, and also that there is better calendar coordination for appointments. It was very frustrating for me to see my 95 year old grandmother have to get ready to go to the Doctor’s office for Monday at 4pm. Then to the XRAY location on Wednesday at 9am, then to the ultra sound at a hospital a week later… Mobilizing for multiple appointments on multiple days is not only stressful but also quite costly. We can be doing a better job of designing our medical centers and integrating their calendars, but it starts with us raising the bar, and resetting expectations.
How would you promote affordable housing and high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations? I am already committing to spending 10% of my monthly calendar at both Queens Park (provincial) and Parliament Hill (federal) where we can better develop our relationships with those individuals that can advocate on our behalf to get greater funding for RGI (rent geared income) housing. Increased RGI units are a must in order for seniors (especially those on fixed incomes) to be able to afford a decent standard and quality of life. As inflation is taking hold and our cost of living is increasing, this means that we all are struggling to make do with less. This shouldn’t be the case, and while I recognize and appreciate all the great work that community organizations (such as church groups and volunteer programs) are doing, we can be better supporting these initiatives and at a minimum the city should be providing a list where people are able to easily find the contact information so that we can help increase involvement to prevent people burning out.
How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes? This was an inequality that I was unaware of until your organization reached out – so thank you for bringing this to my attention! Having now researched this issue I can confidently say that I believe in equal pay for equal qualifications.
Mayoral Candidate: Catherine McKenney
Thank you very much for reaching out to Catherine and the campaign team.
Catherine makes the conditions faced by older adults in our communities a major priority. Catherine wants to make sure everyone in Ottawa has a safe, affordable place to call home. That means tackling Ottawa’s housing crisis head-on every single day and making sure older adults are supported so that they are able to stay in their homes, from health resources to transit improvements. It means reinvesting in social services and supports for Ottawa’s most vulnerable, investing in active transportation and recreation to get people out and moving.
Catherine has promised major improvements to transit, including improvements to the Equipass, a fare freeze, and improvements to Para Transpo to help those with mobility issues get around the city and continue living in their homes. On Para Transpo, Catherine wants to:
- Invest in Para Transpo and accessible taxi services with funds raised by increasing the accessibility surcharge on rideshare companies (to 20 cents per ride).
- Implement the ‘ParaParity’ principles to improve services and provide quality accessible transit.
Catherine also wants to ensure that our city services are properly funded, including health services like EMS. That helps older adults and those experiencing ongoing health challenges feel confident staying in their homes longer. Catherine is making affordable housing a priority given the increasing costs of living in Ottawa and the fact that a lot of people are having trouble finding a place to stay that they can afford.
The platform is still in development, so we’ll have more to say on the specifics of these priorities in the coming days and weeks. So, stay posted! We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with Catherine and the campaign team. Please be sure to sign up for updates or to volunteer: https://www.mckenney2022.ca/ get_involved
Mayoral Candidate: Mike Maguire
Thanks for reaching out, here are my responses:
Initiatives: I want to be a Law and Order Mayor so, by focusing the police on street level crime we’ll make our communities safer for all. I also want to focus on recreation opportunities so all residents of the City can enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Public Health: Ottawa partners with the province to provide public health services. I don’t see a large change in that relationship. I will, however, commit to solving the paramedic wait time problem by addressing patient hand-over with the hospitals. Reducing paramedic response times will have a direct beneficial impact on seniors who need emergency care.
Housing: by reducing the red tape burden on development of new housing infrastructure the City can lower costs and make more housing options available for all residents. Ottawa can also remove as many barriers as possible on home care services so seniors can remain in their homes as long as possible. re: not-for-profit – that’s an odd question. I think the seniors receiving a service should be largely unaware of the corporate status of the entity providing the service. Wage equality: Sorry, I don’t understand the premise of this point. It appears to be labour related and not focused on services for seniors.
Mayoral Candidate: Chloe Marie Brown
Thank you for this opportunity – I have been in the midst of completing 12 blogs on Toronto’s core issues and this subject is one of them. I have attached my response to this email. You can read her full document – Waves of Silver – The Evolving Lives of Seniors . Following are some points that relate directly to Care Watch’s questions.
There is no single definition of who is a senior. Older adults and their desire for programs and services within the City and from other governments may have different operational requirements but have the same outcomes as youth aspiring to lead autonomous, experience-rich lives. Older adulthood can easily include people in their fifties, while the eldest of Toronto’s residents may be far more active and independent than many may commonly perceive. People living with means and supports are likely to age very differently than those whose lived experience includes victimization, violence, homelessness, housing insecurity, poverty, systemic discrimination and social isolation.
As Mayor, I would support the initiatives of the Toronto Seniors Forum by working to bring more hybrid forms of civic participation to help older adults, such as:
- Developing partnerships to support employment of older adults who are looking for work to remain safe, independent, and productive.
- Enhancing the opportunities to mobilize the wisdom and experience of older adults.
- Ensuring age-friendly components in neighborhoods, all City meeting rooms and gathering places.
- Fostering connections between the City’s main advisory bodies for youth and older adults from the Toronto Seniors’ Forum to identify opportunities for collaboration.
- Providing tools to help businesses and employers become more age-,disability-, and dementia-friendly.
- Providing opportunities for adults age 50+ and adults with disabilities to live with passion and purpose by expanding integration of assistive devices and technologies into public services.
With sustainable funding from Toronto Public Library, we will expand partnership with CanAge to improve service coordination and access for residents experiencing frustration and difficulty navigating government-funded services. Working with Toronto Public Library and the City’s departments, I would address concerns with digital and civic literacy by developing an “age-ready” network of accessible and inclusive programs, services, and support providers.
Additionally, with a new Caregiver Strategy, Toronto Public Health will work directly with families and professionals to distribute information, respite, transportation and financial support to improve access to other existing supports and services that may be available, or unknown to caregivers.
With zoning reforms, we can build “Campuses of Care” to replicate a “village approach” for supporting family caregivers without isolating them for their need to accommodate the complexities of disabilities. This will relieve caregiver stress, enhance caregiver resilience and expand social support and participation.
A city built with universal design in mind provides user experience solutions for residents of all ages and abilities, but in particular for those with mobility, cognitive, hearing, or vision challenges. By sharing their experiences and connecting with others, they ensure that communities keep the needs of seniors at the heart of everything we do.
I would promote affordable housing and high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations through zoning reforms and ongoing assessments of the housing needs of older adults to develop action strategies.
A clean city with well-maintained recreational areas, ample rest areas, well-developed and safe pedestrian and building infrastructure, and a secure environment provides an ideal living environment for seniors to age-in-place in.
Mayoral Candidate: Sarah Climenhaga
What initiatives would you establish and support that would help older adults remain safe, independent, and productive? For older adults to remain safe, independent and productive, we need a city where transportation is accessible so people can get around. We need housing for people in all stages of life. And we need opportunities for public engagement in city actions from people of all ages. I have intentions in each area which I am sharing with you here. All of them will involve collaborating and consulting with older adult associations, individual older adult residents whenever possible, as well as the politicians, staff and outside experts who will be able to make the implementation of these changes possible and highly effective. I intend to do everything I can when it comes to the following improvements. Please note these lists are not comprehensive, I am interested in acting in other areas where you may see additional opportunities for improvement:
- Fare Free transit for older adults
- Improved Wheel-Trans service
- Better accessibility on transit. The issue of broken elevators and broken escalators needs to be examined so that such barriers to accessibility are removed.
- Better street design and wider sidewalks so that it is easier for older adults to get around on foot or with mobility devices such as wheelchairs or motorized scooters.
- Make it easier for older adults to connect with others to share housing (students for example) so that they are able to remain in their homes longer
- Find out barriers to affordability for older adults remaining in their homes to see how the city can help, particularly when it comes to property tax or city services such as waste and water for those on fixed incomes.
- Find out where conditions need to be improved in city public housing and improve them so older adults can have dignity and a state of good repair no matter where they live
- Support other measures recommended by older adults to ensure they can remain in their homes or apartments as long as possible.
- Create participatory budgeting systems that allow older adults to help make decisions on taxation and spending in Toronto
- Create opportunities for older adults to vote or otherwise participate in decisions that affect them in the neighbourhoods where they live. Voting every four years is not enough. I want older adults to have an active role in shaping our city, and direct democracy is something I think holds great potential to involve residents in decision making.
- Ensure the city offers community programming and recreational opportunities that older adults want. For instance, if older adults want lawn bowling and chess, the city can either provide or support such activities in their neighbourhood. If they want more pools, tennis courts or community gardens, the city can also look at creating more, maintaining better, or otherwise improving access to such facilities.
How would you support public health, particularly for older residents? To me, ensuring public health means we pay attention to the key determinants of health as defined by the Canadian government. The city has influence over at least four of these areas. Here are a few improvements I intend to pursue in those four areas.
Education and Literacy
- Ensure good community programming for literacy and adult education through a vibrant City of Toronto parks and recreation system as well as through any other opportunities the city can offer or support.
- Make sure outdoor environments are accessible to people of all ages and well maintained (free of garbage or biohazard waste like needles or other problems related to addiction)
- Increase the availability of public bathroom facilities and water fountains and ensure they are kept clean at all times and in a state of good repair.
- Ensure city housing is maintained in a state of good repair to promote good hygiene.
- Work to eliminate Toronto causes of air and water pollution
Social Supports and Coping Skills
- Ensure there are social supports for older adults so that people are not shut in their homes isolated without access to other community members
- Listen to older adults and organizations that represent them to find out other ways to increase coping skills through a vibrant City of Toronto parks and recreation system as well as through any other opportunities the city can offer or support.
- Support access to nutritious food and the ability to exercise regularly for all residents.
- Make sure every neighbourhood has access to high quality local food as well as access to community gardens where people can connect with land, grow food with their neighbours or simply plant and enjoy beautiful flowers.
- Ensure city streets and pathways through parks are safe for older adults to use without fear of high speed traffic
How would you promote affordable housing and high quality home and community care delivered by not-for-profit community-based organizations? I would promote affordable housing and high quality care the following ways:
- Work to ensure adequate financial resources were available for affordable housing and community based organizations and initiatives.
- Work with community organizations, residential associations, city planning departments and developers to make sure zoning restrictions and permit processes are not posing costly barriers, or barriers that cause unreasonable delay to the creation of new housing.
- Listen to the community-based organizations to find out what they need to ensure high quality delivery of services to older adults.
How would you advocate to the provincial government for wage equality so that workers providing home care and community supports are paid as much as those in hospitals and long-term care homes? My approach to differences with other levels of government is to find solutions rather than take an adversarial approach. I believe in advocating strongly when it’s called for, and working around barriers posed by differences. My approach to advocating for workers in home care and community supports would be to bring evidence forward to show the cost of home care and community support compared to cost for hospitals and long term care homes. I believe that when governments appreciate the potential cost savings that would result if older adults were able to stay at home with community support they will not hesitate to invest more in these areas. I would add my voice to voices from those such as CARE who are advocating for more cost effective and humane approaches to aging. Compensating workers so that they can support those who wish to age in place is something important that I will absolutely stand behind.
Listen to Sarah Climenhaga’s responses to our questions.