Our provincial government on Thursday announced details of a multi-million dollar investment towards Manitoba seniors.

Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston says his government is committing $4.5 million in additional investments in six unique programs that offer high-quality services and foster safe, inclusive, and accessible communities.

The Manitoba Association of Senior Communities (MASC) will receive $25,000 in 2022-23 to support three additional age-friendly hubs, which include programs and services that support healthy aging within the larger community including senior centres, service clubs, ethnocultural organizations, law enforcement agencies, the business community, places of worship and recreational facilities.

MASC is also receiving $300,000 in ongoing funding starting in 2023-24 to expand the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative, which supports seniors in leading active, socially engaged, independent lives that contribute to healthy aging. The funding will support new and developing age-friendly communities by providing increased resources and tools to better meet the needs of seniors and incorporating ethnocultural and Indigenous perspectives.

Johnston says the initiative will also start exploring the concept of dementia-friendly communities where people living with dementia are understood, respected and supported. These communities will offer an environment where people living with dementia feel more confident in their abilities to contribute to community life, be included in conversations, and have a choice and control over their daily lives.

An additional $90,000 in funding will be used to support professional development for approximately 70 organizations and over 100 resource coordinators across Manitoba. This funding ensures staff and volunteers working with seniors have comprehensive skills and up-to-date knowledge on current topics including ageism, healthy aging, dementia, board governance, and senior safety. The funding will be administered through MASC.

The Support Services to Seniors program is receiving a $2.9 million increase for a total of $15 million in annual funding, which represents a 25 per cent increase. The program promotes a range of coordinated, accessible and affordable community-based services to promote the physical, psychological, and social health and wellness of seniors to support their ability to remain independent.

As part of Support Services to Seniors, regional health authorities will receive an additional $500,000 to support seniors in navigating and identifying the various community senior services to best meet their needs.

A & O: Support Services for Older Adults Inc. is receiving $70,000 in 2022-23 and $100,000 in ongoing funding in 2023-24 to support the stabilization and expansion of elder-abuse services in Manitoba. The funding will support home safety planning, community awareness and support for victims of crime.

The Manitoba government is also investing $600,000 in 2022-23 to support the production and distribution of 200,000 Emergency Response Information Kitt (E.R.I.K.) packages. Completed packages are placed on the fridge door, providing a readily available source of essential healthcare information that first responders can access in an emergency.

"Our government is committed to moving the seniors' strategy forward quickly to ensure older adults can age in their homes and communities as long as they choose, with convenient access to services that meet their needs and comprehensive supports that enhance their quality of life," says Johnston. "In less than a month since launching the seniors' strategy, we have already made significant investments in multiple key initiatives."