Of Ontario’s two million seniors, 76.9 per cent identify as religious. The Ministry provides funding for a wide range of day programs, including physical activity classes, health education, art therapy and educational workshops, but spiritually and culturally relevant programs are less prevalent. Photo courtesy of Loyola Arrupe Centre

Catholic seniors centre prepares to reap rewards of funding boost

By 
  • November 28, 2017
At the Loyola Arrupe Centre in Toronto, seniors are taught how to protect themselves from fraud and elder abuse.


Starting in 2018, under a new Ontario government program, organizers are counting on a grant that will allow them to expand the program and offer it to an increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse community.

“It is such a great program. We want to expand on it by offering those services in a variety of languages,” said Sandra Cardillo, executive director of the Loyola Arrupe Centre.

The centre’s Protect Seniors program recently received an $8,000 provincial grant. Cardillo will now apply for another grant under a new provincial initiative to make the seniors protection program multilingual.

“It is important that this information and support is available to non-English speakers,” she said.

On Nov. 7, the Ontario government announced an $8-million initiative to create 40 newSeniors’ Active Living Centres over the next three years. When applications for additional funding opened on Oct. 31, Cardillo was eager to apply.

“This could not have happened at a better time,” she said. “We (Ontario) are expecting an increase in the senior population in upcoming years so we need to be proactive when it comes to offering our services.”

The Loyola Arrupe (LA) Centre is funded by Catholic Charities. The centre provides programs such as exercise classes, day trips, Bible studies, educational seminars and food rescue programs for seniors in need.

The $8-million investment is part of a larger $155-million plan, Aging With Confidence, which will provide more long-term care beds and employ additional care workers for seniors. When drafting the budget, Seniors’ Affairs Minister Dipika Damerla reached out to communities across Ontario through a series of roundtable discussions. The discussions opened dialogue between the Ministry and the cultural and spiritual communities it serves.

The new day programs will focus on “underserved” Ontario seniors.

“When we talk about underserved communities, we are not only talking about geography,” said Noah Farber, Senior Communications Advisor to the Minister of Seniors’ Affairs. “We are also factoring in diversity. Are there certain cultural groups being underserved? Or certain religious communities?”

Of Ontario’s two million seniors, 76.9 per cent identify as religious. The Ministry provides funding for a wide range of day programs, including physical activity classes, health education, art therapy and educational workshops, but spiritually and culturally relevant programs are less prevalent.

Privately-funded nursing and long-term care homes tend to cater to the specific cultural and spiritual needs of their residents. Toronto’s Maynard Nursing Home caters to its 62-per-cent Portuguese population by offering Masses in both English and Portuguese. The residents of The Ivan Franko Home in Mississauga are mostly Ukrainian Catholics. Ivan Franko offers Masses, which residents often attend with family members.

Deanne Gilles, Director of the K-W Seniors Program in Kitchener, Ont., says their day programs are based on feedback from clients and their families.

“Not everyone likes to do the same things,” said Gilles. “We have a care plan for all of our clients that includes their social and medical history, likes and dislikes, capabilities and strengths. Many of our clients like to try new things. Especially if they may not have had the opportunity to do that when they were younger because they were working or raising a family.”

Farber says the purpose of the government program is to connect community members with the resources they require.

“We want to ensure that people from various communities have the opportunity to be somewhere they can speak the language they are most comfortable with, attend religious services and have meal services that cater to their dietary needs,” said Farber.

The LA Centre will apply for two grants. The first will seek funding for a secondary facility to permit expansion of its services; the second is to provide educational workshops in other languages.

The first round of applications have a soft deadline of Dec. 21.

“We say soft because we will still accept applications moving forward,” said Farber. “We do not anticipate that we will select all 40 from the first round of applicants. We recognize that some groups may need some more time to get their ducks in a row.”

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