Protecting Latino Seniors Under the Umbrella of Law and Rights in Ontario

Project Name

Protecting Latino Seniors Under the Umbrella of Law and Rights in Ontario

Lead Agency: Hispanic Development Council
Legal Partner: Unison Community Legal Clinic
Community Partner: Association of Spanish Speaking Seniors of the Greater Toronto Area

Legal Topics for Training

The focus of the training is seniors’ rights. The legal topics to be covered are:

  • personal care and power of attorney
  • social assistance for seniors
  • citizenship rights and sponsorship breakdown

Project Summary

This project will educate community and social workers and community leaders on the specific legal needs of Spanish-speaking seniors in the Greater Toronto Area. The project work is informed by research showing that 70 percent of Latino seniors in the Greater Toronto live in poverty, and face a severe gap in services. The project will also strive to help people 55 years of age and older to start planning for retirement and for other life stages connected with aging.

Target Audiences

The training will be directed towards:

  • front-line workers who engage with Latino seniors, including community and social workers who specialize in dealing with issues around aging
  • community advocates and emerging community leaders, including retired professionals who are interested in working with and supporting seniors

Key Activities

Project personnel have consulted with community agencies, services providers, and Latino seniors to determine training needs. The training will be split into 10 modules and delivered in face-to-face workshops. delivered via in-person workshops over three days. The workshop and materials will be produced in Spanish, in order to best serve the population of Spanish-speaking seniors. There will also be an extensive question and answer period following the workshops, reflecting the fact that this is an emerging service area for many community workers.

The legal topics for training have been selected because they fall under the umbrella of safety and security. The project strives to ensure that Spanish-speaking seniors be able to live with dignity and security.

Need for Training

The Latino community of seniors in the Greater Toronto Area is a very vulnerable group. The community is highly racialized. Also, community members come from 20 different countries and many subcultures. They also face linguistic and literacy barriers in English, and have a limited knowledge and understanding of the Canadian legal system. Research has shown a considerable information gap for Spanish-speaking seniors which further marginalized this group.

Innovative Approach

This is the first Connecting Communities project that will have seniors as an intended target population. Another innovative element of this project is that it will build longer-term community capacity to support Latino seniors. It will also build a community asset base of trusted intermediaries to help Spanish-speaking seniors access all of the social safety net benefits that they are entitled to. This type of program does not exist in the Spanish-speaking community, nor, to our knowledge, in other diverse communities.

The project will also educate  community intermediaries on how to address culturally-sensitive emerging legal issues, such as assisted dying. Cultural factors are a very important part of working with Spanish-speaking seniors.