Leader’s Ledger Bill Mauro MPP


THUNDER BAY – In recent years, our government has been working on a number of initiatives that will benefit seniors in Thunder Bay and throughout Northwestern Ontario.

Health care is important for everyone, that’s why our government has made health care a top priority.  Since we were elected in 2003, Ontario’s annual health care funding has increased from $30 to $45 billion—that’s a 50% increase.

Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario seniors now have better access to health care as result of our investments.  Since 2003/04, our government has increased base funding for TBHRSC by more than $50 million – that’s an increase of over 41%.  What’s more, we now have some of the lowest wait times in the province for several medical procedures, including diagnostic imaging (MRIs).

In the summer of 2003, I committed to the establishment of angioplasty services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  That promise is now a reality.  Approximately 500 to 600 people per year receive angioplasty surgery at TBRSC.  Thunder Bay area residents are no longer forced to travel far from their homes and loved ones for this important procedure.

Seniors in the Northwest will soon have greater access to health care services with the construction of a new Centre of Excellence for Integrated Seniors’ Services.  The new 500 bed Long-Term Care Home was created in partnership with the St. Joseph’s Care Group.  The project is 100% provincially-funded – an investment of approximately $100 million.

Our government’s investments in the Nurse Practitioner Clinics, Family Health Teams, the recently announced Academic Family Health Team, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), and improvements to the Northern Health Travel Grant Program are also helping to improve health in throughout Northwestern Ontario.

Our government’s drug reform will decrease the price of generic drugs.  People without coverage will pay significantly less for their generic medications, and the government’s savings will be reinvested to add more drugs to the formulary so that we will all have greater access to more affordable medication.

We’ve provided seniors with tax relief.

    • The Senior Homeowners’ Property Tax Grant has doubled.  Low and middle-income seniors who own their homes can now receive a maximum grant of $500. Over five years, the grant will provide about $1 billion in relief to over 600,000 seniors.
    • The enhanced Ontario Property Tax Credit will be paid annually to low and middle income homeowners and renters.  Seniors will be able to get a maximum credit of $1,025.
    • The new Ontario Sales Tax Credit will provide tax relief of up to $260 annually. The first installment of this quarterly benefit was paid in August 2010.  It provides total sales tax relief of over $1 billion per year—that’s an increase of over $800 million.

Ontario’s 2009 Budget included reforms for locked-in accounts to give seniors more flexibility in accessing their funds by increasing the amount of unlocking permitted from Ontario Life Income Funds (LIFs) from 25 to 50 per cent, and by providing a two-year waiver of fees for financial-hardship unlocking applications.

Our government has made significant investments to help ensure that seniors can age comfortably at home.  We’ve invested over $1 billion in the “Aging at Home” Strategy, $60 million for increased home care, personal support and homemaking services through Community Care Access Centres, and $3.5 million in nurse-led outreach teams that provide more care to patients in Long-Term Care homes.

We’ve taken action to provide seniors living in Long-Term Care (LTC) and retirement homes with greater protection.  In 2007, we passed the Long-Term Care Homes Act.  The Act is helping to improving quality of care and accountability in LTC homes.

For the first time in Ontario’s history, seniors living in retirement homes across the province will be protected under provincial legislation.  If passed, this Act would require that retirement homes comply with clear care and safety standards.  Retirements homes would need to have emergency plans, infection control and prevention programs, assessment of care needs and care planning, police background checks and training for staff.   Residents’ rights would include the right to know the true cost of care and accommodation and the right to live in an environment that promotes zero tolerance of abuse or neglect.  The Act would also establish a regulatory authority that would protect resident’s rights and ensure that retirement homes meet prescribed standards. This legislation would provide retirement home residents with more protections than they’ve ever had before.  It would help ensure that retirement homes meet the standards we would want for ourselves and our loved ones.

Our government is making progress on these issues—but there’s still more work to be done.

Bill Mauro
MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan

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