A large audience of around 100 attended a talk in Parksville to hear about the recent ombudsman’s report on seniors’ care.
Held at Knox United Church Thursday night, ombudsman Kim Carter spoke about the processes that led to her office releasing Best of Care, the two-part, 450 page report, complete with a list of 143 specific findings and 176 recommendations for better services and programs.
“The report is the longest by far we’ve ever done,” Carter told The News before the talk.
She described it as “very accurate and objective. I’m apolitical, I leave it to others to interpret.”
And — perhaps predictably — critics have interpreted it as painting a negative picture with the NDP calling it a scathing indictment of the Liberal record on seniors’ care.
“The government has failed to provide adequate assistance and support to navigate the complex home and community care system or to effectively address concerns and complaints,” said NDP critic for seniors’ care Katrine Conroy in a news release.
Carter meanwhile said the goal of the report, following her office’s mandate, was to help people understand how senior care is supposed to work, how it operates and help make it administratively fair.
While many of the stories and issues were very emotional and compelling, the ombudsman’s job is to take an objective look, she said. That’s why the report is full of charts and detailed numbers and information to help establish a baseline.
“This is a very important area and there has not been a great deal of focus on it in the past,” she said explaining this should give the public access to reliable information to help them make difficult decisions.
“The lack of information is a real barrier,” she said, explaining that if you don’t have anything to measure a situation against, you don’t know if it is a one-time thing or a regular occurrence.
The ombudsman is not an advocate in disputes but an impartial office to provide information and ensure fairness. They have jurisdiction over the provincial government and public agencies like crown corporations, schools and health authorities.
Carter, nearing the end of her six-year term, has a varied law background, having appeared as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada and led the Canadian War Crimes Investigation Team in war crimes investigations in the former Yugoslavia for the UN.
For more on the report or to make a complaint check www.ombudsman.bc.ca or call 1-800-567-3247 where you can reach an actual person 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Carter was joined at the public talk by Marcy Cohen, a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who was scheduled to speak about senior care in general and specific ways to make sure some of the report’s recommendations are carried out.
For more on the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities, a lead sponsor of the event, check www.oceansidecoalition.org.