This past Thursday, the Ontario Government announced that it would be implementing increased access to physiotherapy, exercise and fall prevention classes for the province’s seniors. As part of the announcement, health minister Deb Matthews said that the government will be spending $156 million (an increase of $10 million from last year) to provide more people in communities and long-term care homes with individualized physiotherapy, group exercise classes and services to prevent falls.
This announcement comes on the heels of “Living Longer, Living Well,” an extremely detailed, lengthy, and enlightening report submitted to the Ministry of Health by Dr. Samir K. Sinha. In his report, Dr. Sinha states that while “aging is inevitable, the proportion of Ontario’s population living longer and living well into their later years has never been greater.”
The report points to data that also suggests that Ontario is aging at a more rapid rate than ever before. For example, based on last year’s census, there were 1,878,325 Ontarians aged 65 years and older, representing 14.6 per cent of the province’s overall population. Although this number may seem small, it is important to note that the oldest baby boomers began turning 65 last year, meaning the number of seniors (usually defined as 65 and over) will likely double over the next twenty years, according to Dr. Sinha.
This demographic shift also means that there will be a dramatic increase in issues surrounding substitute decision-making, end-of-life decisions, capacity, power of attorney documents and elder financial abuse. Thankfully, the provincial and national legal communities have been focused on these issues for some time. David Smith recently blogged about his attendance at the Canadian Bar Association’s National Elder Law Conference, which has been happening for several years.
It is encouraging that the government is recognizing and adapting to the trends that those of us practicing in estates law have seen on the horizon for some time. The issues associated with the province’s aging population are extremely important and must continue to be addressed. As Dr. Sinha noted in his report: “[i]f left unaddressed, our demographic challenge could bankrupt the province.”
Thanks for reading.