April 24, 2018 – Toronto, Ontario – The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO/ERO) and the National Association of Federal Retirees (Federal Retirees) launched Vibrant Voices today, an advocacy campaign to represent the interests and concerns of our members and seniors in the run up to the Ontario election on June 7. The two membership-based organizations represent 150,000 Ontario seniors.
About 150 members attended a bilingual town hall style-meeting in Toronto with representatives from the three-main provincial political parties. Satellite events were held simultaneously in Thunder Bay and Ottawa, and 250 more members watched a live-stream of the main event and were able to pose questions remotely.
Representatives from the major political parties in Ontario presented platform policies that affect seniors. The focus of the event was members engaging with the Honourable Dipika Damerla (Ontario Liberal Party MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville and Minister for Seniors Affairs), Todd Smith (Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings) and Teresa Armstrong (Ontario NDP MPP for London Fanshawe and Seniors’ Affairs Critic).
Marieke Walsh, journalist with iPolitics, moderated a lively and interactive discussion on the issues and concerns of our members and the seniors population in Ontario. Topics included: healthcare, home care, long-term care, pharmacare, caregiving, preventing elder abuse, developing age friendly communities for citizens of every age, promoting mental health of older adults, ageism and retirement income security.
“As the first Minister for Seniors Affairs, I have consulted with seniors across Ontario and over and over they have told me three things,” said Dipika Damerla. “Don’t look at me only through the lens of healthcare, we are living longer and we want to make the best of our new gift of time. We want to live in our own homes as long as possible. We want to be independent but not at the expense of isolation and loneliness.”
“As the Conservative candidate in the Bay of Quinte, I hope to be representing a riding that is one of the oldest demographically in the province,” said Todd Smith. “The three things I‘ve heard going door-to-door is: the issue of unaffordability and seniors trying to stay in their own homes; another issue is access to health care and the reality that many seniors do not have a family physician; and access to home care is an issue as well.”
“I want to thank RTO/ERO and Federal Retirees for the vision to start the conversation on seniors early,” said Teresa Armstrong. “We want to ensure age-friendly cities, preventative medicine, an active life, quality and level of care is there without any hardships when seniors need it. And we want to ensure we have secure income for seniors to sustain our lifestyle and our homes into retirement.”
“I was delighted with the participation and turnout today at all three events by our combined membership; especially by the quality of the information sharing and the questions,” said Ted Young, Federal Retirees Director for Ontario. “It’s clear to me that Ontario political parties had better get ready for a well-informed seniors vote on June 7 and all candidates should expect some very pointed questions at our members’ doors.”
“There are many issues we care about as seniors. We believe that engagement, care and quality of life should not have an age limit,” said Martha Foster, Chair of the Board of Directors of RTO/ETO. “With the help of our politically active members, we’re focusing on some key topics for this election season. We are speaking out about health care, specifically the need for more geriatric training, for home care and long-term care. I want to thank everyone for participating in today’s event. This was an excellent example of how Vibrant Voices can come together to have our voices heard on behalf of our members and for all Ontario seniors.”
About Federal Retirees
The National Association of Federal Retirees advocates to protect the hard-earned pensions and benefits of retired members of the federal public service, Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and retired federally appointed judges, as well as their partners and survivors since 1963.