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 citizens.


Being able to empower our citizens is what makes Ontario so great. Ontario is at its best when its citizens are at their best.


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 in five.


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 accessibility.

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 do.


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 secure lives.

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 seniors.

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 their taxes.

Congratulations to all of you who are up for election today. I wish you all the very best.

Thank you.