VAUGHAN, ON, March 24, 2021 /CNW/ – As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased social isolation among many older Canadians, programs that serve seniors are more important than ever. The Government of Canada continues to support local organizations that empower seniors in their communities and contribute to seniors’ health and well-being.
Today, Canada’s Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors, Stéphane Lauzon, announced an investment of $60.8 million to fund over 3,000 community-based projects to support seniors across the country. This funding was awarded through the New Horizons for Seniors Program’s (NHSP) most recent call for proposals for community-based projects.
Minister Schulte announced the investment during a virtual event at the Vaughan Community Health Centre, which received funding for its project entitled Keeping Seniors Connected. This project aims to support seniors’ physical, mental and social well-being by providing them with access to tablets and the Internet so they can join virtual groups. Seniors can mentor other seniors who are struggling to transition to the virtual world. This will help increase seniors’ digital literacy and inclusion, reduce their social isolation and foster a feeling of community connection, particularly among seniors who are living in rural areas of York Region.
This year, increased funding and improvements to the program resulted in the highest number of applications ever, almost double the number of projects serving rural seniors, and a greater share of funded projects serving vulnerable seniors.
Other changes to the NHSP include: updates to national priorities, such as targeting vulnerable and rural seniors; improvements to the application process and program delivery, including a longer intake period; more time to provide missing information; increased use of plain language; and focusing support in communities with recent low uptake. The program changes added an increased emphasis on applicants’ ability to serve seniors over their ability to navigate an application process, while maintaining the same standards and rigour.
“I am proud of the thousands of projects funded through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, including more projects in rural and remote communities than ever before. These projects help Canadian seniors stay active and socially connected during this unprecedented time. Seniors have given and continue to give so much to our country; it is important that we provide them with the programs and support they deserve.”
– Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a need to advocate for digital equity among senior populations in York Region. Access to technology is a new social determinant of health. Internet access is now a means to health access. By being ‘left out’ of the digital world, seniors may decline in mental, physical and social health. Through the New Horizons for Seniors funding, the Vaughan Community Health Centre is thrilled to support seniors in their transition to the new world of virtual service delivery. Socially isolated seniors are now able to connect to the weekly online group programs and attend virtual appointments with their health care providers.“
– LoAn Ta-Young, Acting Executive of the Vaughan Community Health Centre Corporation
- The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal grants and contributions program whose goal is to support projects that help foster social inclusion and improve seniors’ health and well-being. Since 2004, the NHSP has funded more than 30,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada, with a total Government of Canada investment of more than $660 million.
- NHSP funding supports community-based and pan-Canadian projects that engage seniors in their communities and address one or more of the program’s five objectives: volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, social participation and capital assistance.
- Every year, organizations are invited to apply for NHSP community-based funding through a call for proposals. The projects announced today were approved as part of a call for proposals that was launched on September 9, 2020, and closed on October 23, 2020.
- Community-based projects are eligible to receive up to $25,000 in grant funding. Additional grants of up to $5,000 were made available for organizations that have not received funding from the program in the past five years.
- The Government has taken a number of other actions to support seniors through the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- One-time payments totalling $3.8 billion through the GST credit (in April 2020) and through Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (in July 2020).
- An investment of $500 million through partners like the United Way, food banks and charities to help seniors and others receive essential services and supplies, such as grocery delivery.
- Launching the Wellness Together Canada online portal to provide free, professional mental health support.
- Reducing mandatory minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds for 2020.
- Supporting over 450,000 seniors who stopped working due to COVID-19 through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
- Providing $2,000 a month for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for COVID-19 patients and others through the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.
- Investing billions for wage top ups and personal protective equipment for workers in long-term care homes, providing personnel for homes in crisis from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Red Cross, and investing in infection prevention and renovations to help make long-term care homes safe.
Programs and services for seniors
New Horizons for Seniors Program – Engaging seniors, strengthening communities
Prime Minister announces additional support for Canadian seniors
Prime Minister announces support for vulnerable Canadians affected by COVID–19
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: For media enquiries, please contact: Daniel Pollak, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte, 343-551-7558, [email protected]; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]