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20-point plan aims to help Ontarians maximize their senior years

Minister of Seniors Affairs, Dipika Damerla unveils the Ontario government's action plan for seniors.
Minister of Seniors Affairs, Dipika Damerla unveils the Ontario government's action plan for seniors.

The provincial government’s plan to address a projected doubling of the seniors’ population has been unveiled in Hamilton.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was at the Sackville Seniors Centre on Tuesday morning where she participated in a Zumba class before promoting Aging With Confidence, the government’s $155-million action plan.

Wynne says it’s about ensuring that seniors have “every possible opportunity to live the best life possible” and that supports will be there when they are needed.

Among other things, the 20-point plan will create 5,000 new long-term care beds over the next four years. The government will also provide additional staffing to increase the hours of direct care for residents in long-term care homes to get to four hours per resident per day.

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The government will spend $17 million a year to provide a new “high-dose” flu vaccine, to specifically protect seniors from the illness.

READ MORE: Census 2016: For the 1st time, more seniors than children living in Canada

Other planks in the strategy include an investment of $15 million over two years in what Minister of Seniors Affairs, Dipika Damerla, refers to as “naturally occurring” retirement communities.

She points to the example of an apartment building which is already home to a cluster of seniors, and where the government can “layer services and social programs” and develop a “communal space for meals” to help them age in place.

The government will also provide $7 million over three years in “age-friendly” community grants for things like “curb cuts” and benches along walking trails that support mobility.

READ MORE: Ontario to open 40 new Seniors Active Living Centres

Damerla says the action plan is a response to “what seniors have told us,” which is that they want to live in their own homes for as long as possible and that few things are more important than maintaining their independence.

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