Toronto’s vulnerable seniors left behind in pandemic response

Sarah Downey, president and CEO of Michael Garron Hospital

As the summer unfolds Torontonians are emerging from quarantine. Restaurants welcome back loyal patrons, toasting to the long-awaited patio season. Families ascend onto parks each evening, as children run laps around parents thankful for the reprieve. As we savour the sunshine and momentary psychological relief, there’s a notable group missing from the start of summer.

Toronto’s seniors are still at home, braving for a seemingly endless period of self-isolation. Morning Tai Chi in the park, local community centre programs, and volunteering were a lifeline for these seniors. Many seniors haven’t left home since March as the risks remain high for those over 65. They have been left to isolate at home, unable to visit family or even shop for groceries.

“While physical distancing is essential to protect seniors, it risks isolating them from the community and increases barriers to accessing critical services,” says Purnima Gupta who works as a community health facilitator at WoodGreen. “We’ve worked hard to move many of our programs online, providing technical support, organizing meal deliveries, making friendly visiting calls and so much more,” she said.