The federal government has stepped up with funding for seniors in the region’s LGBTQ2 community.
Minister of Seniors, Filoemna Tassi, announced $3 million in funding through the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) during a stop at the Gilbert Centre in Barrie today.
The money is to support a project that will help address discrimination and increase social inclusion of LGBTQ2 seniors in central and northeastern Ontario.
“We wanted to ensure that all seniors can combat isolation and, in this particular instance, reaching a vulnerable population in the LGBTQ2 seniors,” said Tassi.
“This funding, I know, is going to create great results. It will come up with strategies that can be used across the country with respect to combating those issues and challenges that LGBTQ2 seniors in particular face," Tassi added.
Over the next five years, the Gilbert Centre will work with community partners to develop coping strategies, engage LGBTQ2 seniors, help them develop strong social networks in their community and provide them with access to the appropriate and beneficial services and support.
Gerry Croteau, the executive director of the Gilbert Centre, said the funds will go a long way to assisting those in the community that may already feel isolated due to their age, but even more so as a result of their sexual orientation.
“We’re going to be working with two other organizations, the AIDS Committee of North Bay And Area as well as the Reseau Access Network in Sudbury to bring attention to the fact that many seniors are in retirement homes that aren’t inclusive or diverse,” said Croteau.
“Many government agencies still don’t have forms that identify same-sex partners, so that needs to be addressed," he said. "This funding will greatly contribute to seniors getting the skill sets to navigate the new world that we’re living in that has become somewhat anti-LGBTQ2 mainly in attitudes coming up from our neighbours to the south.”
It is expected that this project will reach more than 400 LGBTQ2 seniors in central and northeastern Ontario, officials noted.
According to census estimates, there are approximately 335,000 self-reported LGBTQ2 seniors in Canada.