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Advocacy groups call for independent seniors representative

Call for seniors advocate made as part of World Seniors Abuse Awareness Day
The BC Association of Community Response Networks has information on detecting and preventing elder abuse. (BCCRNS)

A pair of Alberta advocacy groups are calling on the provincial government to bring back a seniors advocate.

Public Interest Alberta and Friends of Medicare used Wednesday’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to repeat calls for an independent advocate to represent seniors.

“Seniors struggle with poverty, loneliness, housing insecurity, and lack of access to social services, ” said Friends of Medicare executive director Chris Gallaway. “Decades of underfunding for seniors’ care has left seniors uniquely vulnerable to abuse. If we want to address the issue of elder abuse, we need to look at the root causes.”

“That’s why we are calling on this government to bring back an independent seniors advocate as a first step to ensure seniors are safe and able to live in dignity,” said Gallaway. “Instead, this government has ignored the calls of seniors across Alberta and continued their reckless agenda of cuts and privatization.”

Public Interest Alberta executive director Bradley Lafortune said, “the UCP government continues to sputter in chaos, as elder abuse remains a real crisis facing Alberta seniors. They deserve better than empty rhetoric from this government.”

Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta, alongside the Canadian Association of Retired Persons and Seniors United Now, have been advocating for months for an “independent, legislated, and properly empowered seniors advocate.”

To date, the UCP government has refused to act, they say.

In a statement to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Alberta Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon said elder abuse remains a serious issue, with one in 10 Alberta seniors victims of abuse.

“Every single one of us has a part to play in helping to spot and stop elder abuse. You can start by simply talking about it with your friends, family and neighbours to build awareness. The more people who shine a light on this issue, the easier it will be to stop abuse before it happens.

“I also urge all Albertans to check in on the seniors in their lives and in their communities.”

Pon said if anyone knows of a senior being abused they should call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818, or 911 for emergencies.

“Seniors deserve to live free from harm and abuse. Let’s work together to make our province safer for them.”

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