For the past six years, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the seniors’ advisory panel with Barb Nott, a well-known community leader who has been involved in numerous volunteer groups and organizations in the city. Sherri Moroso, the city’s community initiatives and engagement co-ordinator, has been our staff liaison and adviser during that time.
The advisory panel is appointed by city council at the beginning of each term. There are 11 members of the SAP, including two councillors. Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc also sits on the panel.
The mandate of the SAP is “to promote, maintain and enhance seniors’ quality of life in the City of Greater Sudbury through consultation, education, advice and advocacy.”
The panel is also mandated to “advise and respond to requests by the mayor and council on seniors’ issues, and to promote the development of a continuum of services for seniors.”
To fulfill our mandate, we have recently established the Seniors’ Advisory Panel Network, which now includes close to 100 representatives from public and private sector organizations, institutions, businesses, consultants, groups and individuals who are all actively involved in addressing the physical, emotional and psychological needs of our aging population.
The network meets once a month. More than 60 people have been attending each of the virtual meetings this year. Each meeting includes special guest presentations on a wide variety of issues of interest to seniors, as well as reports from ongoing committees such as the age-friendly strategy committee. One of the most popular portions of each meeting is the open discussion period where members are encouraged to share information about new initiatives and activities they are undertaking. This allows everyone to become better informed about what is happening in other organizations and to identify where they might be able to collaborate to be more effective together.
The next meeting will be held on March 4 at 10 a.m. One of the presentations will be on a health and social services gap analysis that was recently completed to identify local issues, trends, new initiatives, gaps, overlaps, and inconsistencies in service and service delivery by health and social service providers in the City of Greater Sudbury. This presentation may be of interest to all members who are constantly trying to identify service delivery gaps within their own groups.
Canadian Blood Services and Volunteer Sudbury will also present. Participants will have ample opportunity to ask questions after each presentation.
As a follow-up to each meeting, Barb sends a written summary of the main issues that came up during the session to the mayor and councillors. These summaries contain suggestions that are made during the meeting from our members and recommendations on how to deal with potential challenges that are being faced by our older adults in the community. From time to time, special reports are brought forward to city council and/or the community services committee.
The SAP network will be fulfilling many of the recommendations that came out of the seniors summit in 2019, which brought together hundreds of people from all walks of life to identify very specific needs and issues facing our older adults.
Our ultimate goal will be to build and foster a welcoming city that offers outstanding opportunity, wellness and value to people of all ages. Our senior citizens have set the foundation for the future of our city through their hard work and investments over the past decades. It is important we recognize what they have done by implementing policies and strategies that will enhance the quality of life for our older adults for them to continue to make valuable contributions to our society. It is also important for us to have health and social services in place to meet their needs so they can age in place with dignity during their final years.
The network aims to bring together everyone in the City of Greater Sudbury who has an interest in the health and well-being of our older adults. If you or your organization would like to be part of the network, call 311 and ask to speak with Sherri Moroso, or send an email to email@example.com for more information. We want the network to grow so that we can truly speak with one voice in advocating for the seniors of Greater Sudbury.
Robert Kirwan is the Ward 5 councillor for Greater Sudbury.