Ministry overview


In January 2017, the government created its first dedicated ministry for seniors so that it could strengthen its efforts to improve the quality of life of Ontario seniors; this includes fostering a societal shift which embraces a positive view of aging that reflects the government’s commitment to promoting an inclusive and age-friendly community.

Working in partnership with other provincial ministries, the Ministry of Seniors Affairs is responsible for:

  • Providing leadership for initiatives related to promoting healthy aging and participation by seniors in their communities.
  • Developing, delivering and overseeing policy and program initiatives which support seniors’ safety and protection while maximizing their independence and dignity.
  • Advising on the development of new and existing policy and program initiatives by other ministries that impact seniors and through the Federal/Provincial/ Territorial Seniors Forum to identify opportunities for optimization, cross-government alignment and to ensure the interests and needs of the changing Ontario seniors’ demographic are considered.
  • Providing seniors with the information they need about programs and services, healthy lifestyles and aging, and promoting the contributions seniors make to families, communities and the province.
  • Maintaining close working relationships with seniors’ organizations across the province to help ensure seniors’ perspectives are considered in policies and programs that impact them.

Ministry contribution to priorities and results

The Ministry contributes to the key government priorities of Reduced Poverty, Inequality and Exclusion, Strengthened Public Safety and Security, and A Healthier Population by promoting inclusion, increasing safety and protection, and fostering healthy aging for seniors across Ontario.

The Ministry’s 2017-18 Plan is focused on keeping seniors safe, engaged, active and healthy. The Plan includes investments to enhance programs supporting community engagement as well as ensuring the safety of vulnerable seniors in small and rural retirement homes.

In 2017-18, building on its existing responsibilities, the Ministry also plans to undertake new work to:

  • Further promote healthy aging and participation of seniors in their communities, by:
    • Enhancing the Seniors Community Grant and Elderly Persons Centres programs to reach more seniors, including vulnerable seniors, with opportunities to stay healthy, active and socially engaged.
    • Developing an enhanced governance and accountability framework for Elderly Persons Centres (i.e., proposed Seniors Active Living Centres) that drives best practice, encourages engagement and participation, and can inform future expansion of the number of centres and program offerings.
  • Better support seniors’ safety and protection by:
    • Working with ministry partners to provide funding for small and rural retirement homes to help them with the cost of installing sprinklers in their homes so that they are compliant with the new requirements of the Fire Code by January 1, 2019.

Ministry programs and activities

The Ministry supports, develops and delivers policies and public services to improve the quality of life for seniors and helps them lead safe, engaged, active and healthy lives. Acting as an agent for positive change, the Ministry plays a leadership role in advising on the development of government policies and programs that impact seniors.

Key ministry activities could be bundled into two groups, those which promote:

Senior Friendly Communities – Support Elderly Persons Centres (EPCs) which provide social and recreation programs for seniors and administers the Elderly Persons Centres Act; provide Seniors Community Grants to not-for-profit community groups for projects to encourage greater social inclusion and volunteerism; promote Age-Friendly Communities; provide information through public education to support healthy aging; recognize seniors’ contributions; and improve access to information about programs and services available to seniors, including supporting Active Living Fairs across the province, Seniors’ Month (June) activities and a range of print and online resources.

Safety and Security – Implements the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 and oversees the RHRAs; delivers and strengthens Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse; and oversees the Finding Your Way (Wandering Prevention) Program.

The tables below illustrate the Ministry’s key program commitments and expected results for 2017-18 that align with key government priorities.

Reduced poverty, inequality and exclusion & a healthier population

Key commitments for 2017-18

Expanding the Seniors Community Grant Program

Expected results

  • In the short-term:
    • Create more opportunities for participation by seniors in their community activities.
  • In the longer-term:
    • Support more seniors to have a better quality of life by allowing them to be more socially active, volunteer, and continue their lifelong learning.

Key commitments for 2017-18

Support for Ontario’s Elderly Persons Centres network

Expected results

  • In the short-term:
    • Create new and enhance existing community hubs.
    • Foster growing community partnerships and the further development of innovative community hub models that integrate seniors.
  • In the longer-term:
    • Close the gap for under-serviced and vulnerable areas, such as rural, multi-cultural, Francophone and Indigenous communities.
    • If the Seniors Active Living Centres Act is passed, work within its framework to modernize the EPC program and add flexibility.

Strengthened public safety and security & a healthier population

Key commitments for 2017-18

Funding for Retirement Homes Sprinkler Retrofits

Expected results

  • Design and implement a transfer payment program to assist small and rural retirement homes with the cost of retrofitting sprinklers by January 1, 2019.

Table 1: Ministry planned expenditures 2017-18

 Ministry planned expenditures ($M)

Highlights of 2016-2017 achievements

The Ministry undertook a number of initiatives and delivered results that support the government’s key priorities, by:

Promoting seniors’ healthy aging and participation in their communities and expanding opportunities for seniors to engage, volunteer, and learn.

Supporting opportunities for seniors’ recognition and learning.

Increasing awareness of seniors’ safety and enhanced security for vulnerable seniors.

Refer to Appendix for further details.

Ministry organization chart

May 2017

  • Minister of Seniors Affairs - Dipika Damerla
    • Deputy Minister - Mary-Lison Fougére
      • Executive Advisor to the Deputy Minister - Patrick Ouellet
      • Assistant Deputy Minister - Abby Katz Starr
        • Strategic Policy and Stakeholder Relations Director Kathleen Henschel
      • Regional and Corporate Services Division Assistant Deputy Minister/CAOfootnote 1 - Maureen Buckley
        • Human Resources Branch Directo - Liborio Campisifootnote 2
        • Corporate Finance Branch Director - Tony Marzotto
        • Corporate Resources Branch Director - Tony Marzotto
        • Regional Services and Corporate Support Branch Director - Neil Coburn
        • Corporate Policy and Planning Branch Director - Joanne Lorenzi
      • Communications Branch Director - Deborah Swainfootnote 3
      • Legal Services Branch Directorfootnote 4 - Fateh Salim
      • Community Services I&IT ClusterCIO/Assistant Deputy Ministerfootnote 5 - Soussan Tabari

Regulatory authority

The Ministry oversees the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), a regulatory body created by the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 to administer and enforce the Act and its regulations on behalf of the government. The Act provides a framework for the regulation of retirement homes and establishes an accountability and governance framework between the Ministry and the RHRA.

The RHRA is responsible for licensing retirement homes, educating licensees, and conducting inspections, investigations and enforcement activities. It also handles consumer complaints about retirement homes, provides consumers with information about retirement homes, and maintains a public register of retirement homes.

Detailed financial information

Ministry of Senior Affairs

Table 2: Combined operating and capital summary by vote

Votes/ProgramsEstimates 2017-18
Change from 2016-17 estimates
%Estimates 2016-17
Interim actuals 2016-17
Actuals 2015-16
Operating expense      
Ministry administration programfootnote 61,170,1001,170,100100.0---
Senior Affairs Programfootnote 727,075,8007,126,40035.719,949,40020,077,96619,604,213
Total operating expense to be voted28,309,9148,360,51441.919,949,40020,077,96619,604,213
Statutory appropriations64,01464,014100.0---
Ministry total operating expense28,309,9148,360,51441.919,949,40020,077,96619,604,213
Capital expense      
Ministry administration program1,0001,000100.0---
Consolidation & other adjustments - colleges7,001,0007,001,000100.0---
Consolidation & other adjustments - ontario Immigrant investor corporation 7,002,0007,002,000100.0---
Total Including consolidation & other adjustments20002000100.0---
Capital expense7,004,0007,004,000100.0---
Capital assets      
Ministry administration program1,0001,000100.0---
Senior affairs program1,0001,000100.0---
Total capital assets to be voted2,0002,000100.0---
Ministry total capital assets2,0002,000100.0---
Ministry total operating and capital including consolidation and other adjustments (not including assets)35,313,91415,364,51477.019,949,40020,077,96619,604,213

Appendix: 2016-17 annual report

2016-17 Achievements

In 2016-17 fiscal year, the Ministry:

  • Promoted seniors’ healthy aging and participation in their communities and expanded opportunities for seniors to engage, volunteer, and learn by:
    • Providing $11.5 million in annual funding to 263 Elderly Persons Centres across the province to give seniors access to programs and services.
    • Introducing theSeniors Active Living Centres Act, which, if passed, will help more seniors to stay active, healthy, and socially connected.
    • Launching the fourth year of the Seniors Community Grant (SCG) Program. In 2016-17, $2 million in funding was invested in 379 projects to benefit more than 140,000 seniors with opportunities to be more active and engaged in their communities.
    • Considering the Age-Friendly Community (AFC) Planning Grant data and related information submitted to the Ministry to support potential development of AFC programming in the future.
    • Investing an additional $385,000 in the AFC Outreach Initiative that is supporting communities, including age-friendly grant recipients, to build age-friendly communities.
  • Supported opportunities for seniors’ recognition and learning by:
    • Providing $150,000 to the Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario to deliver 65 Senior Information and Active Living Fairs.
    • Continuing to promote Seniors’ Month in June to recognize the contributions seniors make to their families, communities and the province.
    • Continuing to promote A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario, available in 16 languages.
  • Increased awareness of seniors’ safety and enhanced security for vulnerable seniors by:
    • Continuing to oversee the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA), which has conducted over 4,100 inspections since inception in 2011.
    • Continuing to implement the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, 2010 (RHRA), with more than 730 retirement homes licensed to date and subject to care and safety standards.
    • Developing recommendations for legislative/regulatory amendments aimed at further strengthening the RHRA and improving its effectiveness, based on findings of the five-year review.
    • Investing $900,000 in Elder Abuse Ontario to advance Ontario’s strategy to combat elder abuse, focused on training front line staff, raising awareness and coordinating community resources.
    • Continuing to incorporate feedback from the strategy review into plans to further strengthen efforts to address elder abuse.
    • Investing approximately $145,000 in the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children to roll out province-wide an elder abuse prevention program through a train-the-presenter model of dissemination (project continues in 2017-18).
    • Investing over $700,000 in the Alzheimer Society of Ontario to expand reach of the Finding Your Way Program across the province through engaging more volunteers and providing education for community services sector workers (e.g., Emergency Medical Services, supportive housing and retirement homes staff) in wandering prevention.

Table 3: Ministry interim actual expenditures 2016-17 footnote 8

 Ministry actual expenditures ($M) 2016-17 footnote 9
Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2017)footnote 1038.0