About two and a half weeks ago, our government introduced legislation for the creation of a new Seniors’ Advocate. This was one of the promises made in the Seniors Action Plan which our government wrote in February of last year. B.C. will be the first province in Canada to have a Seniors’ Advocate.
Seniors need a strong voice who will ensure that their needs are met, and the Seniors’ Advocate will look after seniors’ needs in important areas like healthcare, personal care, transportation, housing, and income support. The Seniors’ Advocate will examine any issues related to services for seniors and make recommendations for changes to policies and procedures.
The new Seniors’ Advocate will have a great deal of autonomy, and will be able to choose his or her own work priorities. As a statutory officer appointed by Order in Council, the Seniors’ Advocate will function much like the provincial health officer, the auditor general for local government, or the comptroller general.
The creation of the Seniors Advocate is just one of the many ways our government is looking out for seniors. Another recent initiative is the Elder Abuse Prevention Strategy, which was announced last week by our Minister of State for Seniors, Ralph Sultan. This strategy works to protect seniors from all forms of abuse, committing almost $1 million to initiatives like expanding the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (1-866-437-1940), creating information kits to help community groups and service providers identify and report abuse, creating a multi-sector Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, and much more.
Our government is making sure that the needs of seniors are met. Here in Williams Lake, I’ve been trying to do my part as well, and I’m happy to say that last year Williams Lake opened a DriveABLE service, which allows older citizens to complete the assessment close to home. We know the importance of providing seniors with services tailored their needs, and we will continue to make sure they get exactly that.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.