The Hon. Sophia Aggelonitis at the National Ethnic Press and Media Council
Minister Aggelonitis had some interesting things for us. She started by telling us that when her father came to Canada in the mid sixties there were no Greek newspapers. Information to the Greek community came from the English media or word of mouth (Estonians had papers in the fifties). Now there are many Greek papers and the committee room was full of all other nations' papers.
"Mr. Tom Saras mentioned how the tax measures originally were applied to small media, but eventually withdrawn, and how this industry is exempt, I would like to say thank you to you all, because it was your advocacy that made it happen," said Minister Aggelonitis.
"In Ontario today, one in eight people is a senior. By 2031 the population will be one in five (or twenty percent). In 2017, the seniors population will be larger than the amount of children 15 years and younger. It will be the first time in Ontario's history that we will see that kind of a demographic change. What does this mean for us ?"
"It means signifigant changes will be happening in our province. It will affect things like our healthcare system, our housing, transportation and accessibility. I know that some of you are very familiar with the Diversity In Action Toolkit. The Toolkit helps staff members who work in a seniors' cultural environment in understanding their beliefs and value systems. I believe this is key ."
"Another thing we've done is created a Seniors' Safety Hotline. This line is available twenty four hours, seven days a week in 154 different languages. The number is 1-866-299-1011 (it is not in Estonian)."
"We have made major changes to Ontario's tax system to make sure that Ontario families are better off. The following tax benifits are specific to seniors. They include the Seniors' Homeowners Property Tax Grant. This tax was doubled. It was $250 and now is $500 for seniors who own their own home."
"We 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 Benifit. It is a 10 percent discount from your hydro bill for the next five years."
We look forward to seeing Minister Aggelonitis again with her grab bag of benifits (next time the HST, please). Besides she is such a charmer.