Seniors Information Fair held in Gore Bay

Gore Bay Seniors Drop In Centre Senior Volunteer Lou Addison is pictured with Sue Hesjedahl, executive director of the Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario (OACAO). The two groups teamed up to host a Seniors Information Fair at the Gore Bay Community Hall

GORE BAY—The Gore Bay Seniors Drop-In Centre teamed up with the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) September 1 to host an information fair at the town’s community hall.

Welcomed by senior volunteer Lou Addison and Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane, the event was held to provide information for senior adults concerning health, financial matters, aging safely and Crime Stoppers.

OACAO Executive Director Sue Hesjedhl provided information on what the organization is all about and what it can do for seniors.

“Eight different communities are represented here today,” she said. “We hold four of these seminars each year and OACAO board members are from all over Ontario. We are the voice of older adults and represent 200,000 adults throughout Ontario in eight regions across the province.”

The first guest speaker at the information fair was Jocelyn Lalonde representing the Ministry of Finance with information titled ‘Get your Money!’ He began his presentation by speaking about Ontario Tax Credits. “There are a lot of tax credits and services for adults,” he told the audience. “Know the programs and how to apply for them. Most are income-based and are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Fill out the forms and add Ontario forms to your main income tax form. There are benefits for everyone, for seniors and for seniors with disabilities. There is the Ontario Trillium Benefit and energy and tax credits such as the Ontario Sales Tax Benefit and the Ontario Energy Tax Credit to reduce the high cost of energy. There are medical expenses and a guide for that aspect can be ordered from the CRA.”

Mr. Lalonde also spoke about the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) which does not affect one’s income tax credits and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan which raises income and is therefore taxed on that income. As well, there are healthy homes credits for modifications he explained, that make a home safer such as stair lifts, grab bars, changing flooring to non-slippery products, raised toilets and walk-in tubs and showers as well as medical expenses such as canes and wheelchairs. A caregiver can also apply for these credits. There is a Homeowners Property Tax Grant of up to $500 for seniors to help with the cost of property taxes and the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System and Drug Benefit Plan.

Mr. Lalonde also talked about the Disability Tax Credit for which a person has to have a severe disability and the form for this saving must be completed by a physician and is usually good for five years.

Josee Milijours was the next guest speaker with a topic titled ‘Aging Safely in the New Millennium’ and represented Elder Abuse Ontario which is situated in Toronto, but has offices in Sudbury and Thunder Bay. Elder abuse can take many forms including financial, physical, sexual, psychological abuse or neglect. The organization was set up in 1992, but more money was put towards Elder Abuse in 2002 so that there would be more public education and the hiring of a Service Coordinator. Support people and volunteers who work with seniors can access The Tea and Talk Tool Kit to learn how to facilitate elder care and stop abuse. The Ontario association also works closely with ACE, the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly which is a legal clinic for low income seniors. The 10th anniversary of the worldwide Elder Abuse Awareness Day was held June 15.

The final speaker for the day was Deborah Rousseau, representing Crime Stoppers. In fighting crime, Ms. Rousseau said, “Finger printing, DNA and Crime Stoppers are three of the most important things we have.” She went on to say that the organization’s board of directors is comprised of 22 volunteers and it is not funded by the government, but rather relies on monies from the public, fundraising events and grants.

“We never take your name or phone number,” Ms. Rousseau added, “and there is no caller ID. A person will answer the phone 24/7 and will not take personal information. It is 100 percent completely anonymous. The reward is awarded through a third person.”

Crime Stoppers has been in Sudbury and area for 29 years and tips can be sent online or through texting.

Several exhibitors were present for the information fair including Aging at Home Transportation, Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin, Healthy Sciences North-Senior Mental Health Program, Manitoulin-North Shore Victim Services, Elder Abuse Ontario, Keep Sharp, the Canadian Red Cross, the OPP, Sudbury and District Health Unit, the Victorian Order of Nurses, Home Instead Senior Care, Robertson’s IDA Drug Store and the Northeastern Manitoulin Family Health Team.

The event was sponsored by the Ontario Seniors Secretariat.