Hon. Filomena Tassi, Minister of Seniors (pictured above), visited several organizations across the GTA, on Friday, that support and care for seniors or that have benefitted from Government of Canada funding for seniors.

The Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association (MACCA) was among her stops, where she was joined by Hon. Mary Ng (pictured above), Member of Parliament for Markham-Thornhill.

Minister Tassi kicked things off with an introduction to the group of seniors that help make-up MACCA’s membership, discussing different facets of the New Horizons for Seniors funding program.

Hon. Mary Ng, MP Markham-Thornhill listening to the stories of seniors at MACCA

These include the automatic enrolment into the Canada Pension Plan for seniors, quelling any questions about whether they qualify or how to apply if they do. Minister Tassi settled quickly into a round table discussion with the group, at which point Minister Ng joined them.

Their joint visit included a question and answer period allowing for important information to be shared (see below) and sharing of stories by MACCA members. They also included a couple of popular jokes from within their community and a presentation of the unique paper hats on display at a nearby table.

The group mentioned that they would require a sewing machine to be able to assemble fabric hats, only to receive news from Ng that they had been approved for an additional $25, 000 in funding. Members had also expressed to Ng, directly through her office, a desire to take computer courses and she was only too pleased to announce that the money will be going towards new computers for the facility and arts programs, as well.

Some of the information being discussed during the Q & A session include:

• Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Support (GIS), in that seniors will now be automatically enrolled in GIS when applying for OAS

• Seniors receiving OAS and GIS should not be paying taxes

• Acknowledging that taxing for home care services (Care for Seniors) is an issue that is being advocated against

• 15 weeks of caregiving EI insurance is now in place for taking care of a critical family member

• $6 billion for home and palliative care has been issued to all provinces across Canada, who have signed on to the program

The transfers of $6 billion are being done under the federal Health umbrella and are based on agreements with the provinces. These include having to deliver on home-care and palliative care, but it should be noted that there is flexibility within provinces on how to administer that.

Minister Tassi stressed that how it gets done is really up to the provincial level, as long as they still achieve the same outcome. She also pointed out that there is still accountability and if they hear a lot of voices of concern from within the provinces, they will do their diligence to ensure that the funds are going where they need to be.

She not only stated that they “know that seniors need the extra support” but Ng added her personal experience of having to take time off work to care for her own elderly parents.

Making sure that federal transfers actually land in the community don’t seem to be an issue for MACCA who get their funds directly from the federal government.

This due process paired with an increase in the budget by 40% will bring similar benefits to twice as many organizations across Canada, who were previously denied.

Before delving into the social portion of her visit, which included great food and photo opportunities, Tassi expressed her hope “that we are all working towards the same end – to serve people in the best way we can.”

For information on the New Horizons for Seniors Program, visit:

Photo Credits: Martin Kwok Photography