Let’s show our seniors just what we are thankful for

A Town Crier Community Column

The Thanksgiving long weekend is a time to reflect on the things we’re thankful for — on the things that make our community, and our province, such a great place to live.

I’m thankful that we live in a strong, vibrant community where neighbours support each other, where we treat each other with compassion, and where we are always ready to lend a helping hand. Those qualities are some of the things that make St.Paul’s, and Ontario, great.

I’m also thankful that we live in a community and a province with access to the best hospitals, the best schools and economic opportunity.

One of the things I love most about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to get together with friends and family around the dinner table. I especially enjoy spending time with my parents, sharing memories and getting advice from them as my wife Samantha and I raise our own son, Rhys.

I think sometimes that, for Sam and I, it was only after having a child of our own that we fully appreciated all the things our parents have done for us. I know this is a feeling that many people in our community share, and it’s a feeling that underscores the importance of giving the seniors in our community the respect, care and attention that they deserve.

As a son with parents who are senior citizens, I know I have certain responsibilities. And as an elected official, I am proud and honoured to be able to use public policy as a way to give back to the seniors in our community.

One of the McGuinty government’s most important initiatives for seniors is the Aging At Home strategy. Over the course of four years, our government is investing $1.1 billion to ensure that seniors can continue to live independently at home.

About a month ago, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long Term Care, my colleague Deb Matthews, announced that our government is increasing this year’s investment in the Aging At Home program to $330.6 million. That’s an increase of over 75 percent from last year.

And just last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a proposal to boost tax relief for seniors to help make it easier to pay their property taxes and energy costs. Many of the senior citizens in our community live on a fixed income, and, once this measure is passed, they will be able to claim up to $1,025 in tax relief as part of the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit. This measure is a complement to the doubling of the Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant from $250 to a maximum of $500 in 2010 and beyond.

But the provincial government is not the only one helping seniors. In my own riding of St. Paul’s, there are a number of excellent community agencies and not-for-profit organizations that are lending an all-important helping hand.

These organizations include the Senior Peoples’ Resources in North Toronto (SPRINT), the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, and the Silver Circle. All of these groups, with the support of dedicated and caring volunteers, provide important services to the seniors in our community, enriching their lives, and making St. Paul’s a better place.

These organizations and the staff and volunteers that support them, are examples of the compassion of our community in action. That compassion is one of the things I am most thankful for in this Thanksgiving season. It’s one of the things that make this community, and this province, a great place to live.

About this article:

By: Eric Hoskins
Posted: Nov 2 2010 1:25 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto