Meetings with local reps bring democracy between elections

[attach]5855[/attach]In March of last year we launched an exciting Democracy between Elections initiative in St Paul’s. All the elected representatives committed to come together twice a year to hear from our engaged citizens in a St. Paul’s summit. We were impressed that almost every question was related to a topic that truly crossed all jurisdictions and required cooperation from all levels of government. Almost half of the questions were related to transit.

This highly successful event led to the fall summit, where we were able to dedicate half of our time together to transportation issues.

So it’s now time for our next summit and we hope that you will join me, MPP Eric Hoskins, councillors Joe Mihevc, Mike Colle and Josh Matlow and school trustees Shelley Laskin and Jo-Ann Davis on May 22 at York Fairbanks Centre for Seniors, 2213 Dufferin St. at 6 p.m.

This spring we’ve chosen to focus on caregivers, home care and end of life care as these topics cross all levels of government. We know members of the sandwich generation often struggle to look after their children at the same time as they are caring for sick or dying parents. We need to find the policies and programs that will help deal with these huge challenges.

The federal government can help with caregiver tax credits and changes to employment insurance that would allow time off work to look after a sick or dying loved one.

The provincial government through the Community Care Access Centre is already funding innovative programs like the The Virtual Ward, a new model of care located at Women’s College Hospital that is designed to work with family doctors to support patients for several weeks after hospital discharge.

From short-term care after discharge to the ever-increasing challenges of dealing with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, we need to have access to wrap-around supports and services that are responsive to the unique and changing needs of our families. Technology is playing an increasingly important role. Toronto Public Health plays a role. Accessible and affordable housing matters. The school boards are recognizing the huge stresses on so many of their families. The workplace is having to adopt more flexible policies.

I was thrilled to be able to meet with the amazing Christine Sutherland, founder of Sutherland-Chan School of Massage Therapy, who showed me her inspiring video in which she shows how families and friends can be trained to make a difference in the end of life care for their loved ones.

Sutherland often attended the births of my patients and was able to transform the experience instantly from fear and anxiety to calm and confidence. It’s so inspiring to learn about concrete techniques that can transform the helplessness of family members to real purpose and support that helps both the patient and the caregiver.

I look forward to the summit as an opportunity for us all to find out what’s already in place and really helping. We also need to know about the gaps that exist and the possible solutions.

Invite anyone you think could contribute to this truly important conversation. I’m sure we’ll hear many poignant stories but also some more out-of-the-box solutions. We will start at 5:30 p.m. with my parliamentary clinic and the summit will begin at 6.

Look forward to seeing you there.