Josh Matlow releases bold Age-Friendly Toronto plan
Mayoral candidate will reduce seniors’ TTC fares and support healthy independence
May 16, 2023 – Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that, as Mayor, he will invest $14.75 million in making Toronto one of the healthiest cities to age well in. Key initiatives include reducing seniors’ TTC fares and expanding services that promote seniors’ social inclusion, independence and quality of life. The City of Toronto’s Seniors Strategy acknowledges Matlow as a “longstanding advocate for seniors in Toronto,” and reports that “the success of the Toronto Seniors Strategy is a direct result of his deep and abiding commitment.”
“In my 10 years as our city’s Seniors Advocate and strategy co-chair, I learned that when you design an age-friendly city, one that is caring, accessible and respectful, you design a city that includes everyone,” said Matlow.
Matlow’s Age-Friendly Toronto plan targets the financial, psychological and social well-being of our city’s approximately 450,000 residents aged 65 and older. By 2041, one in five Torontonians will be over 65.
“Seniors have energy and lived experience and contribute so much to the rich diversity of our city,” said Matlow. “When we truly understand and meet the needs of our aging population, we ensure that seniors have their health, their independence and the financial security to thrive in our community.”
Toronto has a responsibility and an opportunity to make our city one of the best places in which to live and age well. Not only is supporting seniors the right thing to do, when it comes to our economy it is a demographic imperative. Experts like Dr. Samir Sinha, Sinai Health’s Director of Geriatrics, report that the care needs of our aging population could bankrupt governments if not addressed immediately.
Issues include escalating transit expenses for older adults living on a fixed income, which limits their independence and social connection. Nine in 10 (90 per cent) of Canadian seniors say aging in place promotes independence, but just one quarter (26 per cent) predict they'll be able to stay in their current home as they age. Some seniors are high-volume 911 callers because they have no other adequate healthcare options. And, approximately half (49 per cent) of all pedestrian fatalities on Toronto roads are adults aged 65 or older.
Matlow’s Age-Friendly Toronto plan will invest in and support:
- Transit - investing $6 million to extend the City’s Fair Pass discounted TTC fare program to all seniors, lowering pay-as-you-go fares to $2.10 from $2.25 per ride, and reversing recent TTC service cuts (see TTC Funding).
- Aging in place - investing $5 million to expand the vital Homemakers and Nurses Services Program to support more low-income seniors with light housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping and meal preparation to make living at home easier and safer.
- Age-friendly housing solutions - introducing an Age-Friendly approach to the City’s urban planning process and expediting the planning of seniors residential and facility proposals that adequately address the needs of seniors, including the support and expansion of Toronto’s 489 naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs). Even adding more benches to outdoor spaces can provide a place to rest on daily walks or serve as a place to build community.
- Healthcare access - investing $2.4 million to expand the community Paramedicine Program by 50 per cent to serve more seniors through home visits, wellness clinics and referrals, thereby reducing reliance on 911 calls and acute care, and advocating to the Province of Ontario to expand CareTO’s model of emotion-focused, culturally sensitive care to all Toronto long-term care homes.
- Safe travels - redesigning dangerous roads and improving snow clearing to keep streets and sidewalks accessible and help older adults stay healthy and connected to the community (see Traffic Safety and City Works Fund).
- Social and recreation spaces - investing $1.35 million to bring back main-lobby cafes in City-run long-term care homes that were eliminated in Rob Ford’s mayorship. And opening neighbourhood schools as community centres on evenings and weekends and all libraries on Sundays to allow for more social interaction and programming (see Open Schools Toronto and Open Libraries).
- Meaningful work - expanding work and volunteer opportunities with the City and its funded agencies for the many seniors who would rather continue to work if they had the opportunity. Older adults have vital skills and knowledge to contribute.
- Healthy lifestyle and community - advocating to the Province of Ontario to expand the City’s NORC programs to more of the 489 apartment buildings where seniors in Toronto already congregate and live. This model reduces isolation and promotes good nutrition, physical fitness and a sense of purpose.
Matlow has a track record of fighting for seniors and pushing for a more age-friendly community. Over a decade ago he initiated Toronto’s Seniors Strategy, which was unanimously adopted by City Council. He has worked closely with the province and community leaders to change the culture in the City’s 10 long-term care homes through CareTO and the 2SLGBTQI+ toolkit for seniors and co-led the launch of the Toronto Public Library’s Seniors Digital Literacy Program. During the pandemic, Matlow personally delivered COVID-19 vaccines to house-bound seniors across his ward.
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
According to the City of Toronto’s Seniors Strategy 2.0, the proportion of Toronto’s population aged 65 and over is projected to continue growing. By 2041, people aged 65-plus will make up 21.2 per cent of Toronto’s population. While this proportional increase may not at first seem significant, the number of seniors in Toronto is expected to nearly double to 828,064 from 426,945 (2041 vs 2016 population numbers).
Extending the TTC’s Fair Pass discount program to all seniors in Toronto would cost $6 million based on a 15-cent decrease in fares for 40 million annual riders; it would be funded through Matlow’s recently announced City Works Fund.
Introducing an Age-Friendly approach to urban design and expediting the planning process would require two staff planning employees dedicated to the fast approval of these projects. These two employees will be funded by a mild proportional increase in development fees for these projects.
Reintroducing lobby cafes in Toronto’s long-term care facilities would cost $1.35 million based on 2 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per cafe X 10 LTCs (20 X $55k average long-term care staff salary = $1.1 million) plus $25,000 in light renovations X 10 LTCs ($250,000). The cafes would be funded through the Community Health and Safety Fund.
The Paramedicine Program will be increased by 50 per cent through the hiring of 20 new FTE community paramedics. At the approximate current rate of $120,000 per year, this would cost $2.4 million annually and be funded through Matlow’s recently announced Community Health and Safety Fund.