Advocacy Foundation blog

RTOERO response to Ontario poverty reduction consultation

Jun 04, 2020

RTOERO responds to Ontario poverty reduction strategy consultation

As the Ontario government updates its poverty reduction strategy, RTOERO urges the government to consider how its policies and programs will improve the quality of life for seniors.

The seniors’ population will grow to over 3 million by 2023. As the government notes, the poverty rate for seniors is 12.1%. Seniors are among the six groups the province identifies as being at heightened risk of poverty, along with Indigenous people, single mothers, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, and racialized communities.

Each of the seven issues we outline relates directly to one or more of the Government of Ontario’s key engagement areas around poverty reduction:

• Encourage job creation and connect people to employment
• Provide people with the right supports and services
• Lower the cost of living and make life more affordable

1. Age-friendly communities

An age-friendly community optimizes opportunities for health, participation and security. Such communities reduce the pressure on health care and the demand for spaces in long-term care facilities, and add to social well-being and vibrancy. Some studies show that age-friendly communities, with their positive features, can also modify the effects of poverty.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Provide people with the right supports and services

2. Pharmacare

Pharmacare can help to reduce the burden of drug costs, and decrease the disparity between rich and poor. A universal, public, comprehensive, accessible and portable national pharmacare program would cut costs and lead to a healthier population – both of which give people more economic means.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Lower the cost of living and make life more affordable

3. Retirement income security

Defined benefits pensions are proven to make retirement secure, and enable Canadians to continue to contribute meaningfully to our economies and communities. Ontarians deserve a secure retirement, with a guaranteed and sufficient source of income so that they do not fall below the poverty line. That will ensure that older Ontarians can afford to enjoy a healthy, active and dignified retirement.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Lower the cost of living and make life more affordable

4. National seniors strategy

Seniors are the fastest growing demographic in Ontario. Ontarians are living longer, and our health care system is not keeping up with shifting demographics. A coordinated seniors strategy will support governments in optimizing health, financial security and social inclusion, so all Canadians can age with dignity.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Provide people with the right supports and services
• Lower the cost of living and make life more affordable

5. Geriatric health care

Over the next two decades, the numbers of Canadians aged 65-plus will double. Those 85 and over will quadruple. We face a shortage of geriatric professionals, roles that will be in high demand. Older Ontarians constitute about 16% of our population, but account for nearly half of our health and social care systems costs. Having personnel with the knowledge needed to care for older Ontarians is essential.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Encourage job creation and connect people to employment
• Provide people with the right supports and services

6. Elder abuse prevention

Elder abuse relates to poverty in two critical ways. While any senior, in any economic class, can be a victim, many victims come from lower-income demographics and tend to be isolated. Moreover, an important dimension of elder abuse is financial abuse, in the form of stealing, fraud and misusing power of attorney. Such abuse can take away or limit a senior person’s resources and options.

Link to poverty reduction goals
• Provide people with the right supports and services

7. Social isolation

The RTOERO Foundation, which invests funds in efforts that benefits Canada’s seniors, calls social isolation a barrier to healthy aging. Social isolation can lead to missed economic opportunities and poverty. Meanwhile, poverty means that seniors can’t always access the resources that decrease isolation. Finding more ways to connect seniors – to family, friends and neighbours, to colleagues in volunteer roles and workplaces, and to our communities – is vital to their well-being in every way.

Poverty Reduction Goals:
• Encourage job creation and connect people to employment
• Provide people with the right supports and services
• Lower the cost of living and make life more affordable