Toronto District School Board

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Toronto District School Board

Continuing Education for Seniors - Learn4Life

Categories: Advocacy

April 25, 2024 

Dear Minister Cho, 

I am writing to request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss exploring the establishment of agreements and other potential options for continuing education programs for seniors in Toronto. 

As the Chair of the Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest school board, I am deeply concerned about the potential discontinuation of our "Learn4Life", programs due to lack of funding. These programs, although not directly aligned with Kindergarten to Grade 12 education, play a significant role in providing meaningful learning opportunities and help combat social isolation among our senior population. 

I strongly believe that by exploring operating agreements with the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility, we can secure sustainable, long-term funding to support these programs. Our board is eager to collaborate with your ministry and the Ministry of Education to explore how we can work together to ensure the continuity of these programs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of these programs as they served as a vital lifeline for many seniors, offering not just learning opportunities but also social interaction and emotional support. The alarming rates of loneliness among Canadian seniors, especially among women, and those in lower-income brackets highlight the critical need for initiatives like Learn4Life. According to Statistics Canada, almost one in five Canadian seniors (19%) aged 65 and older reported experiencing loneliness in 2019 and 2020. Senior women were more likely to report being lonely than senior men (23% versus 15%), according to a recent study. Of particular concern for our board, seniors living in Canadian cities with 1 million or more people (21%) were more likely to report being lonely than those living in small towns with 1,000 people (17%).i 

During our recent budget meetings, we have received overwhelming support from community members, with hundreds of letters and dozens and dozens of deputations emphasizing the significance of these programs. We cannot abandon our seniors or overlook the needs of our vulnerable community members. We know we have the schools, the instructors, and the programming to facilitate these programs – we simply require government funding.  

By creating a shared services agreement, or a Memorandum of Understanding, we can establish a framework for the Ministry to provide funding that will ensure the availability of these programs. I am confident that by working collaboratively, we can find cost-effective solutions that align with the goals of your office's seniors' strategy while also meeting the needs of our diverse communities. 

I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you and explore how we can move forward together in supporting our seniors and fostering lifelong learning opportunities. Thank you for considering this request.  


Rachel Chernos Lin 
Chair, Toronto District School Board 


cc Minister Lecce