“With Respect to Old Age” My thoughts on Dr. Sinha’s Inspire Burlington Presentation

October 18, 2012

On October 17 I had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Samir Sinha for our latest Inspire Burlington. Dr. Sinha’s presentation – With Respect To Old Age: Can We Do Better? – was not only inspiring, but incredibly informative and enlightening. Dr. Sinha is a very engaging speaker who obviously has found his passion.

For those of you who were not in attendance – a little background. Dr. Sinha is the newly appointed expert lead of Ontario’s Seniors Care Strategy. He is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults and that was evident to the audience at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Currently, Dr. Sinha serves as the Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals in Toronto.  His list of credentials is impressive.

Dr. Sinha has consulted and advised hospitals and health authorities in Britain, Canada, the United States and China on the implementation and administration of unique, integrated and innovative models of geriatric care that reduce disease burden, improve access and capacity, and ultimately promote health. He covered much of this information in his presentation which I invite you to review here.

His message was very appropriate for Burlington as we are aging at a greater rate than both the provincial and national averages. Between 2006 and 2011, Burlington’s population increased by 6.9% while the percentage of people over 65 has increased by 17.2%. In the next 20 years, that percentage over 65 is expected to double and the population over 85 is expected to quadruple.

Our society looks entirely different now than in the past. The average age of Canadians in the 50’s was 27. Today the average age is 47. And through advances in healthcare, lifestyle and education, we are living much longer. As Andre Picard pointed out when he was here, our healthcare system was designed to prevent families from going bankrupt and losing their farm when a health issue arose.  I would suggest very few of us look at it that way today. Patients have changed but the system has not. This presents some enormous financial challenges for our system.

We are also seeing huge changes in society regarding how communities and families live. Multi-generational homes have decreased significantly and it is not uncommon for families to live across the country from one another. This presents a challenge to the older adult who requires care as they age, often resulting in admittance to the hospital and Long Term Care facilities for extended periods of time, rather than having care provided in their homes by loved ones. Once again, financial challenges are incurred.

So what needs to happen to reduce these financial challenges to our system? Reducing the number of frequent and high users of our hospitals is paramount. The highest users are those with multiple health issues, functional impairments and those that are “socially frail”, meaning they are isolated and alone. We have to think of alternative ways to provide appropriate care for our seniors.

With respect to old age, we not only can do better, we must do better. Dr. Sinha gave examples of wonderful programs and ideas that are offered all over the world that we can learn from.

We have many initiatives locally. The Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee represents seniors’ perspectives on municipal policies, services and programs. The Elder Services Advisory Committee advises on seniors’ issues and services at the regional level. Just recently the Halton Seniors’ Directory has been made available. We have reduced fares on Burlington Transit for seniors and have had many requests to investigate the concept of free passes for seniors. We have a vibrant Seniors’ Centre with several thousand members participating in a whole host of activities, as well as a number of Parks and Recreation activities specifically geared to older adults.

But much more needs to be considered. Communities need to ensure that they are respectful of the diversity of needs of older persons and be willing to accommodate and include the whole community.  We can help develop Elder Friendly hospitals and communities by shifting our thinking. This can only succeed through collaboration and teamwork within the community, City, our Region, Hospitals, LHINS, CCACs and the province.

I look forward to your comments.

You can also share your feedback in a short, post-event survey.

What did you think of Dr. Sinha’s presentation?

United Nations Day

October 16, 2012

October 24, 2012 is United Nations Day – a day to recognize the goals, achievements and ideas of the United Nations to promote peace, tolerance and understanding.

Burlington is a UN City. Through our Mundialization Committee, the City of Burlington is committed to world citizenship and awareness of global issues, rights and responsibilities and dedicated to the UN principles of peaceful cooperation.

This year to recognize UN Day, the City of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee in partnership with Burlington Rotary Clubs are presenting a United Nations Day Speaker Session

Thursday, October 25, 2012
Burlington Art Centre, Shoreline Room
1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Free Admission

This is a free public event and all are welcome to attend. Please register by contacting Lisa Palermo, Committee Clerk at palermol@burlington.ca or at 905-335-7600 ext. 7492.

The theme of this year’s event is “The UN: Successes and Failures” and we are privileged to welcome two world class speakers to discuss local efforts and international challenges related to the UN.

Dr. Arne Kislenko, Associate Professor of History at Ryerson University, and Adjunct Professor in International Relations at Trinity College / Munk School for International Studies at the University of Toronto




Dr. Atif Kubursi, Professor of Economics at McMaster  University and former Senior Development Officer at UNIDO and Consultant to UCTAD, UNESCO, ILO, UNDP and UNEP.


I encourage everyone to attend this free community event to recognize UN Day in Burlington and to share your feedback about the event here. Let’s continue the conversation. Leave your comment or send me an email to mayor@burlington.ca

Burlington’s 5 million pound concrete King Road underpass is successfully moved into place

City of Burlington Media Release – Oct. 9, 2012

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the City of Burlington’s King Road Grade Separation / Underpass project completed a significant milestone. Many watched at the construction site, and online through the live webcam feed as a 5 million pound concrete tunnel was successfully pushed into place under the railway lines.

This is a very important project for the City of Burlington, in partnership with CN, that will help open up employment land to create jobs and prosperity for the City.

Watch highlights of “The Big Push” online and see some photos and interviews about the project.

Thank you to all of those who have been involved in this project, and to the residents and businesses for their patience and understanding during the construction.

Why We Don’t Want the Niagara Escarpment Highway

Updated October 10, 2012

Media Release: “Say no to a new provincial highway cutting through Burlington Escarpment”

The City of Burlington and the Region of Halton have been adamant in opposition to any plans to build a new highway across the Niagara escarpment. The community has been equally active through the STOP Escarpment Highway Coalition.

Despite political promises made, the provincial Environmental Assessment for this plan still includes a possible route across the escarpment to the dismay and disappointment of all.

The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition has put together a video on why we need to prevent the development of a major highway across the Niagara Escarpment in North Burlington.

The Stop the Escarpment Highway Coalition will be hosting a show on TVCOGECO on channel 700 on October 4, from 7-9 p.m. I will be participating in this program, along with other local representatives including Regional Chair Gary Carr and Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor.

The City and Region will be hosting a public meeting about the proposed Niagara to GTA corridor highway  on October 23 from 7-9 p.m. at Mainway Arena. I encourage all members of the community who have concerns about a potential highway in North Burlington to attend.

For more information about the NGTA corridor highway I have tagged several updates and news under “Niagara-GTA Highway” on my blog including news, updates and background.

Please leave a comment, and share your thoughts with me on this important issue for our city.

Burlington ‘Vital Signs’ Report

Last summer I asked Halton Social Services to put together a meaningful summary of what is happening in Halton and Burlington. For the most part, I was able to confirm the issues that I see and hear about every day. No matter how successful we are as a City and as a Community, there will always be those looking to catch up.

This is not a futile exercise. People move up the economic ladder through opportunity and education. Sometimes, society has to provide that support network so that survival is assured and opportunity can be taken advantage of. Many of us live with privilege that we take for granted and we simply don’t see the challenges that others face.

The Burlington Community Foundation has just released its first Burlington Vital Signs 2012 Report. I invite you to take a look. Burlington is one of the very best places to live for about 85% of the residents; but  many others struggle just as they do in any community.

Although always a struggle, the many volunteers and contributors to worthy causes in Burlington make a huge difference through their efforts, and offer hope and opportunity to the less fortunate. As our community focuses on funding the needed hospital re-development, I am concerned that we will lose sight of those in real need. Meeting the needs of all members of the community is important to our community’s success.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Burlington Community Foundation for taking this step and introducing Vital Signs to Burlington. Awareness of the needs of others is needed so that we can help provide the opportunities required.