$4.5M unveiled in Manitoba’s seniors strategy


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The Manitoba government has unveiled the next step in its seniors strategy: $4.5 million for community projects.

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The Manitoba government has unveiled the next step in its seniors strategy: $4.5 million for community projects.

“It is our intention to continue to bring forward actions we have identified from our comprehensive senior strategy,” Seniors Minister Scott Johnston said at Deer Lodge Centre Thursday.

Most of the funding — $2.9 million — will be added to the support services to seniors program, raising its annual funding to $15 million. The program is managed by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Seniors Minister Scott Johnston announced $4.5 million for community projects at Deer Lodge Centre Thursday. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Regional health authorities will share an additional $500,000 to improve the process of seniors navigating services.

Another $600,000 will pay for emergency response information kits (ERIK) that include health information, medical history, next of kin, organ donor forms and other essential information should a medical emergency occur. The kits have a magnet that attaches it to a fridge, and a sticker for the front door so paramedics know to look for it.

Typically, those looking to get an ERIK of their own had to contact their local seniors resource finder. The province is investing $600,000 to produce and distribute 200,000 kits for any adult over 65 in Manitoba by August.

“When 911 hits the door, this is what they see. They find all the information they need in this kit,” Manitoba Association of Senior Communities executive director Connie Newman said.

The Manitoba Association of Senior Communities will receive $325,000 to expand the age-friendly Manitoba initiative, which invests in projects that make infrastructure, housing and transportation more accessible to seniors. New additions to the initiative could include investing in a “dementia-friendly communities” project.

“I don’t think there’s too many people at this particular stage of life that don’t experience someone who’s been challenged by dementia, so it became very apparent in our deliberations, that this was an area (where) we needed to to be very, very aggressive,” Johnston said.

The remainder of the funding will go to the creation of three “age-friendly hubs,” which will bring together community groups, law enforcement, cultural and religious organizations, recreation centres and others to discuss how to make their spaces better places for seniors.

A hub in downtown Winnipeg is planned for April, and another is planned for Dauphin. The location of the third hub has yet to be decided.

Connie Newman, executive director, Manitoba Association of Senior Communities, holds an emergency response information kit along with sticker for front doors. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

In February, the province unveiled its seniors strategy, which included funding boosts for palliative care and community programs.

Johnston called the seniors strategy a “living document” that will be expanded, including an upcoming announcement on long-term care.

“Our government determined that (Manitoba) needed a senior strategy, and therefore the actions that we’re taking right now we’re going to address the needs right now, as well as actions that we know we can take in the foreseeable future,” he said.


Malak Abas

Malak Abas

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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