• Speech: The Council on Aging of Ottawa – Annual Spring Luncheon

    Thank you, Nicole.

    Good afternoon everyone.

    On behalf of the City of Ottawa and my colleagues on City Council, it is my pleasure to join you today for the Council on Aging of Ottawa’s annual spring luncheon.

    I extend my thanks to Cal Martell, President of the Council on Aging of Ottawa, for having me here today.

    Also recognize:

    – Councillor Mark Taylor;

    – Councillor Rick Chiarelli;

    – Councillor David Chernushenko.

    Canadians have known for some time that, as a population, we are getting older.

    Seniors currently make up the fastest growing age group in Ottawa, and that number is expected to double in size over the next 20 years.

    In fact, by 2031, there will be more seniors than children under the age of 15 for the first time in Ottawa’s history.

    As a City, we recognize that we need to make Ottawa a more age-friendly city.

    And we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far.

    In October 2011, I hosted the Mayor’s Seniors Summit at City Hall.

    It was a pivotal moment for our City as we moved toward a new way of providing services and adapting our infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of our aging demographic.

    Based on feedback gathered during the Seniors Summit and at consultations, the City has developed the Older Adult Plan.

    The plan introduces a long-term vision of a community that values, empowers and supports older residents and their quality of life both now and in the future.

    It will also enhance the quality of life of older adults in our community by improving access to essential supports, programs and services.

    City Council has demonstrated its commitment to older adults by declaring the Older Adult Plan a Term of Council Priority initiative, and approving funding in the amount of $500,000 per year for the implementation of OAP initiatives.

    City Council approved the OAP in 2012, and work is now underway to implement the Plan by 12 different lead City departments.

    In 2012-2013, the City was pleased to have achieved a number of accomplishments, including:

    – More than 400 low income older adults with urgent dental needs received free dental screening and/or free access to dental treatments;

    – New pedestrian signal technology was installed at six signalized intersections, in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors;

    – Two editions of an older adult guide of social, recreational, and cultural programs (spring/summer and fall/winter) were printed and distributed;

    – An older adult web portal on ottawa-dot-c-a was created as a central point of information on programs and services of interest to older adults – the web site also features new and improved search functions for recreation programs and volunteer opportunities;

    – Several automatic power doors and washroom grab bars were installed in various City buildings highly frequented by older adults;

    – Twenty-one benches were installed on sidewalks, in areas of the city with large numbers of senior residents;

    • And more

    And we’re not stopping there.

    The City is working to implement a number of actions this year, such as:

    – Developing an age-friendly parks, pathways and public spaces checklist for use by park planners;

    – Installing public access computers at City-operated seniors centres;

    – Providing specialized older adult fitness certification for Parks and Recreation staff.

    The work the Council on Aging has done on the Age Friendly Ottawa Community Framework complements the Older Adult Plan well and is to be commended.

    We need to continue to work collaboratively in order to achieve the success we want.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Council on Aging for its commitment to helping us build this caring community.

    The World Health Organization recognized the efforts of the City and the Council on Aging to enhance Ottawa’s age-friendly attributes by granting the City membership to its Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

    And we hope that this productive partnership continues into the future, as we work together to improve the quality of life of older adults here in Ottawa.

    I am confident that as a city, and as a community, we will make Ottawa a place that is accessible, inclusive and respectful of our older residents.

    Thank you.