Apr 7, 2009

Your government cares about seniors (in up to five communities across the province)


This is the message that the Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Mary Polak sent out yesterday with the announcement of a new partnership between the government and the United Way of the Lower Mainland. As part of this partnership, the government will spend $700,000 to fund what sounds like a broad-based community consultation with the goal of developing “an innovative community driven approach to help seniors live longer in their own homes.”

I fully support participatory democracy and am happy to see our government put money towards community engagement, but why only in “up to five communities across the province”? And perhaps more importantly, how are these communities going to be seleced?

On another note, the news release claims that:

This follows through on a key recommendation from the Premier’s Council on Aging and Seniors’ Issues, chaired by Dr. Patricia Baird, and is part of Seniors in British Columbia: A Healthy Living Framework, where government committed to explore innovative and sustainable models to provide non-medical home support services.

However, this is a rather broad interpretation of what “follow through” means. Dr. Baird’s report recommended that the BC government introduce “a new broader and more widely available home support system” across the province, which was estimated to cost around $120 million. It did not call for a community engagement exercise in a select few communities.

Although the news release mentions that the United Way of the Lower Mainland “will begin implementation of a new model in one community this year,” I can’t help but wonder whether, after the election, this Community Action for Seniors’ Independence project would sink into oblivion much like the feasibility study on all day kindergarten did.