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Serré: The urgency to address seniors’ needs is at an all-time high

By 2036, seniors will make up 25 per cent of the population, says Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré. (Supplied)

Seniors issues remain a top priority for Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury residents. 

As an MP, I work closely with local senior advocacy groups and participate in the Greater Sudbury Seniors Advisory panel meetings to keep a pulse on what challenges and opportunities are facing our aging population. 

Thank you to the dedicated members of the Seniors Advisory panel, such as Barb Nott and Sherri Moroso, who continue to spearhead initiatives aimed at improving the lives of seniors in our region. 

Over the years, their efforts have brought important projects to fruition like the recent “Greater Together” seniors resource book funded in part by the New Horizons for Seniors federal program.  

Working hard for seniors remains a topic of great importance since being elected in 2015. My motion M-106 passed in the House of Commons and helped develop Canada’s first National Seniors Strategy. This paved the way for the creation of Canada’s first ministry dedicated to seniors. It also helped to advance increases in financial support for seniors living in poverty and a national focus on housing for the elderly. 

I have always felt it is important to be proactive and accessible to all Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury municipal leaders and to respect their individual needs and priorities. These values have been put into practice since the beginning of my mandate and remain a constant means of sustaining healthy and productive relationships. 

I wish to extend a special thank you to city councillor Robert Kirwan for his role as co-chair of  the Seniors Advisory panel and for championing many important causes and projects related to seniors in Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury, such as the successful seniors summit in 2019. This brought together experts in the field and seniors to gather information and develop tangible solutions on how to make our region more age friendly. Working collaboratively with all levels of government has enabled Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury to fully benefit from available supports. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented its own set of unique challenges. I have heard directly from constituents on pertinent challenges facing local seniors such as the need for better standards and staffing levels in long-term care homes and more affordable housing. To mitigate some of the increased costs associated to the pandemic, our government rolled out a set of measures to support those most vulnerable including: 

-A one-time payment of $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement 

-A one-time payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension - $9 million administered through the United Way Canada wide for vulnerable seniors, including $158,534 locally for food baskets, grocery deliveries and other projects to  help seniors 

-$100,000 to improve food security for seniors in Nickel Belt – Greater Sudbury through organizations like Onaping Falls Lions Club, Destiny International Church in Val Caron and Helping Hands Family Missions in Hanmer and more

-A one-time additional GST/HST credit payment for eligible individuals 

-A one-time payment of up to $600 to persons with disabilities 

-$1 billion outlined in the Fall Economic Statement as a priority for long-term  care  

The urgency to address seniors’ needs is at an all-time high. The numbers are staggering, by 2036, seniors will make up 25 per cent of the population. That’s why the time to strengthen  policies around seniors’ issues needs to be put at the forefront now. This will help ensure that increasing income security and benefits for seniors is an integral part of our federal budget year after year. This will foster positive change and support seniors living in poverty. 

Canada’s seniors framework also focuses on national pharmacare, protecting seniors from  abuse, a national dementia strategy, and funding for housing among other things.  

As we move forward in our economic recovery, it is important to not lose sight and ensure  seniors are prioritized. Seniors play a crucial role in our communities and their social, physical and financial wellbeing is paramount. 

I encourage local groups and stakeholders who do not currently participate in the Greater Sudbury Seniors Advisory Panel to get involved. We stand to gain so much when we work together for the betterment of residents of all ages to develop and implement supports they need and deserve to help them thrive and attain a good quality of life.  

Thank you to the countless frontline workers and volunteers who continue to make a difference in the lives of residents in all corners of the riding. Your dedication and care is sincerely appreciated. 

A special mention to Public Health Sudbury and Districts and the North  Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit for their successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in  local long-term care homes. This is a positive step forward in ensuring all those who want a  vaccine can access one and we can move through this pandemic safely and all rise above  it. We owe it to our seniors to keep working together.  

Marc G. Serré is the member of parliament for Nickel Belt.