A large and enthusiastic crowd was on hand at the Rimbey and district Drop-In Centre on Friday, May 8 for the grand opening of the new Seniors Information and Resource Centre.
Thanks to funding from the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) to the tune of $20,947, the new addition features a number of computers in a fully-stocked office environment with the objective of introducing them to the latest in technology while allowing them access to the Internet.
“I am truly excited to tell you about the government of Canada’s support for the Rimbey Community Home Help Services Association’s project Senior’s Information and Resource Centre,” said Wetaskiwin Member of Parliament Blaine Calkins in addressing the large gathering. “Our government is very proud to assist seniors in strengthening our communities and building our country and I know this project will encourage not only the seniors in Rimbey, but all the folks in Rimbey to contribute sharing their skills, wisdom and experience to the benefit of others.”
Calkins made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors).
“We’ve got four work stations and we also have a laptop. We have a projector and screen, a digital camera; we tried to get everything we could think of that the seniors might need in an office to work on computers, fill out forms and whatever we could think of,” said Peggy Makofka, executive director of the Rimbey Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), adding that the seniors have taken quite a shine to the new opportunities the office provides. “Most of the classes that we originally planned are already full so we’re trying to figure out a way to get some more classes in place this spring.”
Under the project, the Association will provide space and equipment for the office where seniors will teach other seniors how to use computer tools effectively in their everyday lives, but it certainly won’t be limited to strictly seniors teaching each other.
“We hope to have volunteers here on the second Tuesday of every month that will help seniors access forms and things,” Makofka said. “The kids from the Youth Activity Program are going to be coming down and working with seniors to learn how to go on Facebook and other social networking programs to teach them that and how to talk to their grandkids online.”
“The Government of Canada is proud to support seniors in strengthening our communities and building our country,” Calkins added. “This project will encourage seniors in Rimbey to continue sharing their skills, wisdom and experience to benefit others.”
According to a statement released by the federal government, the investment in new technology falls under the Community Participation and Leadership component of the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which encourages seniors to continue to play an important role in their communities by helping those in need, providing leadership and sharing their knowledge and skills with others. A call for proposals is currently open in all provinces.
With two additional components of the New Horizons for Seniors Program Capital Assistance and Elder Abuse Awareness the overall budget of the program is now $35 million per year.
As part of the recent Economic Action Plan, the federal government made a number of commitments to seniors across Canada including:
• Increasing the age credit by $1,000 for 2009 and beyond to allow eligible seniors to receive up to an additional $150 in annual tax savings.
• Providing seniors with $200 million in tax relief by reducing the required minimum withdrawal amount for 2008 from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 percent, in recognition of the impact of the deterioration in market conditions on retirement savings.
• Helping older workers and their families by investing an additional $60 million over three years in the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, and by expanding the number of eligible communities to include older workers in small cities.
• Providing $400 million over two years through the Affordable Housing Initiative for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors.
The NHSP is intended to help ensure that seniors are able to actively contribute to and benefit from the quality of life in their communities.
In the federal budget of 2007, the federal government increased the program’s budget by $10 million per year to provide capital assistance for repairs to facilities and equipment related to existing seniors’ programs, and to raise awareness of elder abuse across Canada. This has increased the total budget for the NHSP to $35 million per year.
As a result of the additional $10 million, the program offers three types of funding to organizations:
First, with up to $25,000 in Community Participation and Leadership funding, the projects encourage seniors to continue to play an important role in their communities by helping those in need, providing leadership, and sharing their knowledge and skills with others.
Secondly, Capital Assistance funding of up to $25,000 is intended to help non-profit organizations that need to upgrade facilities or equipment used for existing seniors’ programs and activities enabling seniors to continue to lead active lives by participating in existing programs and activities in their communities.
Thirdly, Elder Abuse Awareness funding of up to $250,000 in funding annually over a maximum of three years is intended to help non-profit organizations and coalitions raise awareness of the abuse of older adults on a national or regional level. Through this funding, new educational and awareness resources about elder abuse will be available to improve quality of life, safety and security for seniors.