Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seniors Issues in Muskoka

The price of gas must be difficult for those who have chosen to retire in Cottage Country. While housing costs are similar, if you are not on the water, I know that many seniors have transportation issues. Many travel 35 km to get health care, or shop, many more should not be driving at all. I shudder to think about the proposed Carbon Tax. Incomes are $15,000 below the provincial average here in Central Ontario. This kind of tax takes a big chunk out of a pensioner's income.

Of course, income disparities between men and women are more severe at this age. Women earn an average of $34, 752 per year compared to men. For retired seniors, on fixed income, costs increase rapidly. There are no transportation systems in Central and northern Ontario. A taxi to the nearest town, 35 km away, is $60. Volunteers are few and far between and face health issues of their own. In our town, fortunate to still have Meals on Wheels, is delivered by those who now cannot travel the roads to deliver these meals.

Transfer payments to organizations such as health care and social services, standard across the province do not take into account the higher costs in Central and Northern Ontario. In terms of meeting with clients: travel, travel time, and the time to get to and visit with clients, is an onerous amount of our budgets. It is more difficult finding volunteers and getting clients to and from appointments (from seniors, Meels on Wheels, to mental health care appointments) the costs are too dear. The Ministry needs to keep this in mind as they prepare budgets to transfer payment agencies.
Our North Simcoe LHIN covers a deep and wide territory. The map, found on the Ontario Local Health Integration network website, demonstrates the huge area they just serve, including 10,000 residents.

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