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Baby boomers and millenials need to prepare for senior crisis

Baby boomers and millennials are often at odds with one another due to differing values and desires. Baby Boomers are often blamed for the state of the economy and environmental degradation today, and millennials are seen as flippant and spoiled. Both parties enjoy pointing fingers, but the reality is these are the grandparents, parents, and children of society, and everyone must learn to work together.

In coming years, retiring baby boomers will be the largest age group in the twenty-first century to reach old-age and millennials, as a much smaller generation, will be in charge of providing for these seniors. To avoid being crushed economically on a global level, millennials and baby boomers need to put their differences aside and figure out how to support this fundamental change in society. The world is rapidly aging, with the number of people aged 60 or up growing from 11 per cent in 2006 to 22 per cent by 2050, according to the guide on building age-friendly cities by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is a massive population shift and society needs to prepare essential senior’s services in cities all over the world.

In celebration of senior’s month in Ontario, throughout the month of June there will be a lot of focus on providing services for seniors. The City of Toronto is dedicating programming to the safety of older adults with Toronto Fire Services, which includes door-to-door visits to Toronto Community Housing senior’s buildings and fire prevention services will conduct visits to provide safety tips to avoid home fires. Ontario is also supporting 460 new projects through the Senior’s Community Grant program to help seniors stay involved and active in their communities. This includes providing seniors with projects and initiatives in the non-profit sector to stay involved and engaged. Though these projects are positive for seniors, housing and transportation should be the central focus for senior’s month in Toronto.

In order to create an age-friendly city, builders must create stronger transportation. There is a global shortage of affordable housing that focuses on seniors and building infrastructure with old-age-motivated features will help avoid a housing crisis in the next 10 years. Public transportation benefits everyone and is a necessity for seniors because many can’t drive after a certain point. Buses and subways give unlimited access to essential city services such as medical and recreational services and should be a priority to build an age-friendly urban center.

When planning for seniors, providing accessibility in every part of the cityscape is also considerably important. According to the Age-friendly Checklist by Alberta Health, every aspect of a senior’s daily transportation must be easily accessible. Sidewalks need to be even for seniors with mobility issues and provided on all roadways. Public transportation must have elevators and easy access to buses and subways. Public buildings must be accommodated with handicap washrooms and ramps if there are stairs. In colder climates such as Canada, preparing for icy conditions and cold weather is also relevant for seniors.

With the better part of the baby boomer generation retiring in the next 10 years, it is imperative to start orienting infrastructure towards ensuring this large population of seniors will be taken care of. The frivolous arguments between millennials and baby boomers are ridiculous and must be abandoned. Instead, everyone must work together to ensure that seniors will have homes and transportation, and millennials won’t be crushed by the debt of an impending housing or public transit crisis.

For senior’s month, opening a discussion as to how to deal with the larger problems of creating an age-friendly city is ultimately the way to creating a stronger and more resilient city for generations to come.

Affordable housing to recieve billions in federal budget

The federal budget is taking affordable housing seriously, with a new National Housing Strategy that wants to tackle Canada’s housing crisis.

The 2017 budget proposes to spend $11.2 billion over 11 years and will build safe and affordable housing across the country. In cities with high prices and a severe lack of affordable housing, like Toronto and Vancouver, this funding cannot come soon enough. The government’s proposed housing fund will be run by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) — the country’s public insurance program for mortgages. The CMHC will receive $5 billion over 11 years to work on several projects related to housing. Another $3.2 billion will be dedicated to affordable housing specifically and will use a multilateral investment framework, relying on private and public funding to get affordable housing projects up and running across the country.

Out of the $11.2 billion, $3 billion will be spent in the next three years and $20 million for this year.

The money budgeted falls short of what the big city mayors caucus asked for at their meeting in late 2016. They asked for a pledge of $12.6 billion, spread over eight years to solve the affordable housing crisis that are growing in Canada’s largest cities. Toronto specifically has $2.6 billion in repairs needed for Toronto Community Housing units on the brink of being closed down.

Mayor John Tory is asking that the province pitch in to the housing fund as well and fill the gap that the federal government cannot commit to. Affordable housing in Toronto needs a huge investment to repair current community housing units as well as provide more. There are 82,414 households on the waitlist in the city, most consisting of families and seniors, and with rising house costs people are desperate for somewhere to live.

All three levels of government ultimately need to work together to tackle the affordable housing crises popping up across Canada. The National Housing Strategy is a brave step and the commitment of billions of dollars will make headway to giving vulnerable parts of the population somewhere safe and healthy to live. Without a home, it is nearly impossible to escape the throes of poverty — finally it seems that Canada is realizing the importance of shelter in the Great White North. Let’s hope that investment is maintained!