Over the next two weeks, I will be touring the province listening to and learning about issues seniors face. As the Wildrose Official Opposition Seniors critic, I look forward to meeting with seniors, their families, stakeholders and advocacy groups to gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing seniors and how we might solve them.
I’m scheduled to visit a total of 23 places from Whitecourt, Athabasca and Bonnyville, through Brooks, Medicine Hat and Cochrane. The schedule will allow me the opportunity to see and hear from parts of the province I don’t usually get to visit.
Seniors’ issues are complex and often misunderstood. Seniors built this great province and they deserve better. Seniors need to be part of the discussion that is setting the policies in Alberta.
We know that every day there are almost 100 Albertans turning 65 years old. This will increase the demands on the health-care system as well as see the options for seniors decrease. Many seniors are expressing that they would like to remain in their homes longer, they want to stay in their communities and they don’t want to be a forgotten piece of the puzzle.
There are a lot of improvements to be made. Unfortunately — for the nearly 400,000 seniors living in Alberta today — properly addressing seniors’ care has not been a priority. The need to move seniors out of their communities while awaiting long-term care placement is difficult and onerous for the families. There is no question that the health-care system has to be improved but one of the issues facing acute care is the lack of long-term care spaces for seniors. Seniors languish in acute care beds, which are not the appropriate situation. Instead, they should be in their communities, surrounded by family and friends, and receiving the care they need.
As if the cost of prescription drugs wasn’t already high enough, the government threw in a costly premium on top for good measure. For seniors already struggling with the rising cost of living, this was an extremely difficult and unnecessary burden to bear.
Seniors have already been telling me that they need and want better food. They want to look forward to dinner. Is it too much to ask that facilities have kitchens and that the food prepared is not all pre-cooked?
After the end of the two-week, 23-places tour, I will compile a list of policy recommendations to the Wildrose caucus in hopes that we will in the future be able to make a difference and improve the lives of seniors. I will also present this report to the associate minister of Senior and the minister of Health. I would look forward to an open discussion with them so that we can solve some of the very serious issues our seniors face today and going forward.
The Wildrose is committed to understanding the problems Alberta seniors face and crafting smart, sensible policies to address them. As always, feel free to send your feedback on seniors’ issues or any other topic to my office:
Kerry Towle, Wildrose Official Opposition Seniors Critic and
MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Constituency
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Constituency Office
#18-4804 42 Ave
Innisfail, AB T4G 1T4