Seniors Minister Lori Sigurdson celebrated Seniors’ Week at Golden Circle Resource Centre on Thursday, an organization that has been in Red Deer for 40 years.
“Actually it’s the 31st Seniors’ Week here in Alberta. It’s a time when we can really acknowledge seniors for their significant contributions to our province. They’re parents, grandparents, mentors to people. They’re employers, employees. We’re just so grateful for their contributions so it’s lovely to be here in Red Deer to celebrate at the Golden Circle,” said Sigurdson who mingled with seniors and even joined in the game — pin the cane on the senior.
She said her NDP government is committed to making sure seniors can age in their communities, close to family and friends.
“We have significant investments in affordable housing, $1.2 billion in our capital plan over five years,” said the minister who pointed out it was four times more money than was in the previous government’s capital plan.
“We’ve invested another $200 million in Home Care which really supports a lot of seniors to be able to stay in their own home and communities. And we’re on track to have 2,000 long-term care beds so our government is certainly investing very significantly in supporting seniors.”
She said the province has also increased special needs assistance program for seniors by $500,000 to pay for costs associated with travelling to urban centres to see medical specialists.
Monica Morrison, Golden Circle executive director, said emergency crisis housing for seniors is an issue that needs more attention.
“We just had a case a couple of weeks ago where two people were discharged from hospital with nowhere to go and Safe Harbour (mat shelter program) is not the right place for them,” Morrison said.
“That’s not the right choice for somebody 70 years of age and can’t walk.”
She said emergency dollars from government allowed the couple to stay in a hotel. Eventually they did find lodging, but they had to be separated because accommodations for a couple was not available.
“That’s not an isolated case. We’ve had numerous of those over the last few years. People come to our centre and they have nowhere to go. A lot of times crises happen because a tenant has been evicted for reasons.”
Morrison said Piper Creek Foundation is working diligently with government to create more affordable housing, but emergency crisis housing, with supports for people with mental health and addictions issues, are needed.
Sigurdson said Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir is working to make sure there are investments in shelters specifically for elder abuse in Alberta, and work continues with Piper Creek Foundation on housing.