Midhurst/ July 15, 2015 – The County of Simcoe recently received funding from the Government of Ontario as part of its Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program. The funding program is run through the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat and supports local governments and community organizations to undertake strategic planning and develop local plans to address aging demographics and further enable people of all ages to fully participate in community life.
"Our collective challenge is to ensure our cities and towns continue to grow to meet the evolving needs of every person regardless of their age or ability," said Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs. "This is why I'm proud our government can continue to support communities like the County of Simcoe as it creates supportive environments, and provides age-friendly services that help seniors live their best lives while fully participating in their community."
The County has received approval of up to a maximum amount of $50,000 from the Government of Ontario to execute the program. The County has the capacity and ability to set a regional seniors strategy framework in motion that would guide the lower municipalities, separated cities, first nations and rural communities that reside within its geographical area.
"We applaud the province for recognizing this growing global need," said Warden Gerry Marshall. "Simcoe County is a tremendous region for seniors to call home, offering an active, healthy and affordable lifestyle. We look forward to working with our partners to build further strategies that address our aging population and meet the needs of all our residents."
The County will apply the funds in three phases:
Phase 1: July 2015-March 2016
Community engagement and collaboration including the creation of an Age-Friendly Community Project Steering Committee and the hiring of a Consultant to co-ordinate the program. The development of an age-friendly initiative will also be recommended as a priority in the County's 2016 Strategic Vision Plan.
Phase 2: April 2015-March 2017
Planning and development of a seniors' strategy framework to enhance infrastructure programs, services, and policies to address the needs of current and future older adults and to guide the 16 lower tier municipalities, two separated cities, first nations and rural communities in our area. The framework will cover rural and diverse communities where planning has not begun, as well as build on all of the work already underway by organizations within our communities to target opportunities for seniors service enhancements that fall within the eight World Health Organization dimensions: Outdoor Spaces/Public Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Communication and Information, Community Support and Health Services.
Phase 3: 2017-2027
Following the endorsement of the seniors' strategy framework, the County will move to the implementation and evaluation phase of the initiative.
Projected population changes in Simcoe County:
Simcoe County's older adult population 55+ is projected to experience substantial growth and development during the census period from 2012 to 2036, increasing from 214,050 to 443,520, an older adult population change of 107.2 per cent.[i]
Age-Friendly Communities initiative:
In 2007, the World Health Organization and international partners developed the Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide that outlines the framework for creating age-friendly communities. In 2013, the Ontario Government launched the Finding the Right Fit: Age-Friendly Community Planning Guide and, subsequently, in 2014 announced the opportunity to apply for Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant funding in Ontario. This year, the province is providing $1.5 million through the Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant program to local governments and organizations to develop age-friendly plans.
The County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at simcoe.ca.
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[i] Statistics Canada, 2011 Census of Population