Seniors share struggles with MLAs

Many want more resources for current programs, not new bureaucracy

Bob Rogers shares his thoughts on a new seniors advocate office in B.C. during last week’s forum hosted by Ron Cantelon (centre)

Seniors will have a new resource to fight on their behalf next year when a seniors advocate office is established.

Vancouver Island MLA Ron Cantelon, who is also the parliamentary secretary for seniors, is touring the province and speaking with seniors and senior groups to help determine what a seniors advocate should do and who the office should help. He was in Mission, along with local MLAs Marc Dalton and Randy Hawes, on Wednesday (July 18) listening to suggestions at Cedarbrooke Chateau.

A few speakers suggested the new office should be independent from government and report only to the public; others said a seniors advocate is not needed, and the government should instead put more resources into existing programs.

“We don’t need another bureaucracy,” said Allan Larson.

Cantelon also heard about the need for affordable housing for seniors and health care. Those comments were echoed throughout the province, he noted.

Cantelon has also heard concerns about transportation, taxes, legal support and pensions from seniors.

Some people  in attendance used the opportunity to share their health care struggles and criticize the government about cuts made to Mission Memorial Hospital.

“The government has let down seniors in Mission badly,” noted one speaker. “We had a good heart surgeon, but the government took away his equipment, and now we have to go to New West. They’ve downsized our hospital to a shell and we have to go elsewhere for care.”

Cantelon informed the group there is a health care support line for seniors and there are six people answering phones Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“If they can’t answer your question, they will get back to you,” he added. The phone number is 1-877-952-3181.

Cantelon is wrapping up the input sessions on Vancouver Island and says the government wants to move forward with community support.

“We’re committed to establishing (a seniors advocate office) by next April.