Remarks by The Honourable Sophia Aggelonitis
Minister of Revenue and Minister
Responsible for Seniors
Date: March 14th 2011
Remarks to the National Ethnic Press and Media
Council of Canada
Thank you very much for the invitation.
I am thrilled to be here, and I thank you very much
Thomas for that wonderful introduction.
Friends, I want to also take this opportunity to
congratulate all of you who are running in the election.
I wish you all the very best.
As most of you know, I am the daughter of Greek
immigrants - in fact a very proud daughter of Greek immigrants. I
definitely understand the role that ethnic media plays in the community.
In the 1960s, when my parents came to Canada, they
came to Toronto, but at that time there weren’t any publications that
were in Greek.
It was difficult for them because they had to rely
only on mainstream media and their family and friends.
Fortunately that trend has changed. Now we have many
Greek newspapers, and we have newspapers for almost every single
community, which represents this great multicultural country of ours.
Studies in Canada show that ethnic media are
institutions which work towards building national unity.
Your media houses do this by having information
available and accessible in ethnic languages to non-English speaking
citizens as well.
This builds up a community of empowered and involved
Being able to empower our citizens is what makes
Ontario so great. Ontario is at its best when its citizens are at their
Today I will talk briefly about my role as the
Minister Responsible for Seniors. I will also speak about how the HST
affects our seniors population.
I want to share with you some important numbers. In
Ontario today, one in eight people is a senior. By 2031, that will be one
Another change that’s happening - in 2017, the
seniors population will be larger than the number of children 15 years and
younger. It’s going to be the first time in Ontario’s history that we
see that kind of a demographic change.
We also know that three million baby boomers in
Ontario are starting to retire this year.
What does this mean for us?
It means significant changes will be happening in our
province. It will affect healthcare, housing, transportation, and
Our government wants to ensure that all seniors have
the support they need to continue to live with independence, in dignity,
in good health, and in safety.
That is why we, through the Ontario Seniors
Secretariat, work with many different multicultural agencies to develop
and support culturally-sensitive services and resources.
I know that some of you are very familiar with one of
our projects - the Diversity in Action Toolkit.
The toolkit helps staff members who work in a seniors
setting, and provides them with information and ideas for providing care
and services with attention to the individual’s cultural preferences,
beliefs and value systems. I
believe that is key.
We have created a Senior Safety Line. This line is
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in 154 different languages.
The Senior Safety Line is very important because any
information you require about seniors services is available here, in 154
different languages. I checked today to see if they had Greek, and they
The number is 1-866-299-1011.
As Minister of Revenue, my job is to ensure that
Ontario seniors have the support they need to live financially stable and
We have made major changes to Ontario’s tax system
to make sure that Ontario families were better off.
The following tax benefits are significant for
They include the Seniors Homeowners’ Property Tax
Grant. This tax grant has been increased – doubled in fact. It was $250,
and is now $500, for seniors who own their home.
W e also have the Ontario Energy and Property Tax
Credit. That is to help not only energy costs, but also property tax bills
and is about $1,025 for seniors.
There is also the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit.
It’s a 10 per cent discount off your hydro bill for the next 5 years. We
know that electricity costs are going up, and the 10 per cent is a measure
to help families with that transition.
These tax cuts and tax credits are making things a
little easier for seniors around the province.
That is why it is very important for people to file
Congratulations to all of you who are up for election
today. I wish you all the very best.