When the province appoints a seniors advocate some time this fall, he or she will have a great deal of work to do, although, says Ron Cantelon, that work remains to be defined.
However, said the Pakrsville-Qualicum MLA and parliamentary secretary for seniors, whoever gets the job shouldn’t try to fix everything at once.
Speaking after concluding a whirlwind tour of the province to discuss what it is the advocate should do, Cantelon said the key will be to deal with the issues in stages.
In fact, he said, the government is already starting to take action to address seniors’ concerns.
“We want to get ahead of the curve,” he said, noting the so-called silver tsunami of aging Baby Boomers is fast approaching. “We are building infrastructure but it’s an incremental process.”
Cantelon cited the Seniors’ Help Line as one step the government has taken to address the needs of seniors.
The tour, he noted, stretched from Parksville to Dawson Creek to Cranbrook and involved public forums where seniors gave their views of not only what they see as the weaknesses of the current support system, but also gave suggestions about how to fix it.
One key part of the advocate’s task, he said, will be to provide support for the many groups and organizations that already provide services to seniors.
“There are a lot of great organizations spread out throughout the province helping seniors navigate the system and they need help and support,” he said.
“That’s a role the advocate could do, possibly training people to help others navigate the system and become a person that seniors can talk to who will listen and take their concerns forward,” he said.