Penticton Western News: MLA’s stop in Penticton to hear senior concerns

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  • by  Steve Kidd – Penticton Western News
  • posted Feb 9, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Penticton seniors had the opportunity last week to air their concerns about the issues facing them with a trio of NDP MLA‘s who were in town to gather information.

Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, the opposition critic for seniors, local government and sport, said the idea of touring with a panel came to her when she realized how many areas seniors issues touched. That’s when she invited New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy, opposition critic for health and Point Grey MLA David Eby, opposition critic for Housing, to accompany her.

“Seniors are a large group of people with a variety of needs and a variety of challenges,” said Robinson. “Things like housing, things like health care, transportation, isolation. They are all entwined.

“It felt like we need to be working together.

The trio arrived in Penticton on Feb. 4, and after a short round of introductory speeches, started listening. There may not have been a lot of answers for audience members, but there was no shortage of questions and commentary.

”Key to many of the comments was housing, both the lack of affordable housing and services to help seniors stay in their homes longer.

One of the attendees spoke about an acquaintance with both a housing and health issue.

“She is 60-years-old, she’s got bipolar, she is living on $910 a month,” said the audience member. “Why can’t the government put in a system where someone like this person, who cannot find subsidized housing, would get a subsidy so she can stay where she is?”

Some questioned the downloading of responsibility to local organizations, which are already stretched to help with current needs in the community while a retired nurse spoke about the lack of residential care.

“I have a friend who was housed, basically, in the hospital at $1,000 per day for seven months,” she said.

Robinson agreed it would be better to invest in caring for people before they end up in hospital, both providing better care and saving the health system money.

“We need to start thinking differently about how we think about healthcare,” she said. “We need to move it upstream.”

Another complaint was the lack of affordable dental care, with one woman telling how she had travelled to Mexico for affordable dental care.

Robinson and her colleagues didn’t have many firm answers for the audience, but she did make mention that a new version of the B.C. Senior’s Guide had been released, including information on programs such as the home renovation tax credit programs, shelter aid for elderly renters, seniors bus pass program and assistance with medical services plan premiums.

The guide is free, and is available online through the B.C. Government website, or request a copy through local MLA offices.