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Mr. Speaker, I rise today as Minister Responsible for Seniors to inform members of our mandate commitment to enable seniors to age in place with dignity. This is a significant commitment for me personally because of the number of seniors who live in my riding. I keep hearing that they want to stay home as long as possible. This means taking a cross-ministry approach to providing seniors with access to a variety of services and supports when and where they are needed.
The GNWT has identified several ways to achieve this goal, including:
- Increase support for older people to stay in their homes and communities, including home care;
- Fund actions that improve inclusion and safety;
- accelerate the removal of barriers to aging in place; and
- Protect older people from abuse and neglect.
The Department of Health and Social Services, the NWT Housing Corporation and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment are working together to advance this mandate priority.
For example, the NWT Housing Corporation has changed its policies, which will result in better access to housing support for low-income seniors. These changes include eliminating the requirement for applicants to have land tenure or insurance when applying for property repair programs. Also, specifically with respect to seniors, the NWT Housing Corporation no longer counts the income of adult children or grandchildren when calculating whether they fall within the income threshold of the program to which they belong. . As a result of these changes, we have seen seniors’ participation in home repair programs increase by up to 25%.
The NWT Housing Corporation also has several other relevant housing initiatives underway, including
- the Aging at Home program for seniors; and,
- new and innovative social housing designs that have wide doorways and hallways to allow barrier-free use.
To help meet the current demand for seniors’ housing, the NWT Housing Corporation is preparing a submission to the federal government’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund for new social housing. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has also supported AVENS with its application to advance the Avens Pavilion project, which will add 102 new senior housing units to Yellowknife later next year.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Employment is also working to improve the lives of seniors by creating a new component of the income assistance program adapted to them and to people with disabilities. The department is currently engaging various groups to ensure that this program will meet the needs of NWT residents.
For its part, the Department of Health and Social Services is ready to engage the public to gather information for the development of a strategy for NWT seniors. We hope the dialogue will identify service gaps and propose solutions. The NWT Seniors Strategy will be completed by September 2022.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also make funding available in 2022-23 for communities to provide services and support for seniors to age in place through our unique age-in-place grant program. elders. The details are online, and we are now taking applications.
We are also working to ensure that NWT seniors are better protected from abuse and neglect. Three key initiatives are already underway:
- a review of current programs, services and regulatory frameworks;
- review of training options for staff and bystander intervention; and,
- developing and launching a public awareness campaign.
Mr. Chairman, the GNWT is committed to understanding and meeting the needs of seniors so they can stay in their communities for as long as possible. It is essential that our government provide a sustainable approach to meet their various demands. We have made and continue to make significant progress towards achieving this priority.
Thank you, Mr President.