New provincial government site for Net savvy seniors

If seniors are in rocking chairs they’re most likely in front of computers surfing the Net.

That’s because seniors are now the fastest growing demographic of Internet users in Canada, according to the Minister Responsible for Seniors, Jim Bradley.

Increasing Internet use by seniors is what prompted the development of, launched by the McGuinty government that provides information and services to seniors from all levels of government.

Bradley consulted with seniors, as well as their families and caregivers, on what they wanted to see in the site.

“They told us what they need is a quick and easy way to access information on programs and services, particularly those that they can access in their own hometown,” said Bradley. “So the site really represented what they were looking for, which was a one stop shop.”

Currently 22 Ontario communities have customized sites that can be accessed through the Seniors Info site, including Brockville and Saugeen Shores.

Bill Gleberzon is the director of government relations for CARP, Canada’s Association for the Fifty-Plus and while he said the site is comprehensive and informative, he is not without concerns.

“Governments come up with some very good stuff, programs and information, but they never let people know about it,” said Gleberzon. “One of the major concerns I have about a site like this is how are they letting people know about it?”

Bradley said they’ll be making people aware though advertising by the Ontario Seniors Secretariat, as well as informing libraries throughout the province.

“We think that the word will spread quickly,” Bradley said. “We’re also going to get municipalities interested through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, but I think it’s a good start and we want to expand the program rapidly and comprehensively.”

Despite his concern Gleberzon welcomes the site and concurred with Bradley that this development acknowledges that seniors are among the fastest growing users of the Internet.

Senior Net use will likely increase as baby boomers begin to retire, Gleberzon said.

“I think this is very laudable, and it’s very welcome because this represents recognition that older people are not computer illiterate, that they are very up to date and savvy,” he said. “It overcomes a whole bunch of myths around seniors that people have.”