Emerging Issues From Toronto Focus Groups
To date, three focus groups have been held with seniors from specific
- First Nations
- The concerns of seniors from cultural backgrounds are not being heard by
- There is limited information available to people of diverse cultural
backgrounds in forms they readily understand.
- Seniors need more geared to income public transportation.
- Since English is the mainstream language in Toronto, free ESL classes need
to be offered.
- Opportunities to learn and use languages of one’s culture need to be
encouraged, so as not to repeat the mistake of a long-term policy against use
of native languages which "decimated a proud culture of peace loving,
- The end of government funding for new geared to income housing has resulted
in long waits by people who badly need housing.
- There are some retirement homes and sometimes nursing homes that have staff
who use the language spoken by residents, but, since these are few in number,
usually filled, and often in other areas of the city. Often, the food served
is foreign to the residents.
- Seniors without their own incomes often have to live with families, and
some are treated badly.
Income and Pensions
- Immigrants are encouraged to come to Canada if they are sponsored, but
there is often no way for them to support themselves once they are here, and
sponsors (even their children) do not always continue to support them. These
people often live in poor conditions and without hope.
- Immigration policy does not match pension eligibility policy, geared to
income housing policy, health care eligibility policy, welfare policy, and
other areas of policy. Policy in these areas does not appear to be
coordinated, leaving seniors (especially immigrants from other countries) the
Employment and Welfare
- Do not have equal opportunities in employment (last hired, first
- Shelters and services are full or closing due to cutbacks in funding.
- Need an address to receive welfare, but this does not always match the
situations of seniors.
- There are qualified family doctors who speak many of the languages of the
seniors — although this is by no means always the case — but not always
close to where they live.
- Specialists and personnel in emergency departments do not typically
speak any language other than English. Translation is sometimes available, but
the patients often have to wait many hours for a translator. Thus, patients
who do not speak English feel they get poor service, and that there is discrimination.
- Some seniors are distrustful of doctors, and even of western medicine.
- Some family doctors charge a "registration fee" for patients.
This is difficult for seniors on low or no incomes such as recent immigrants
who do not quality for OAS of GIS.
- The special health issues associated with a cultural group (e.g.,
diabetes among First Nations People) require more attention.
FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS