As Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Minister of Health, my job is to listen to the concerns of B.C.’s seniors and talk with them about what our government is doing to improve their lives.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to represent B.C. in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where I gathered with my provincial, federal and territorial colleagues to discuss ways we can all better support seniors.
The meetings were an excellent forum for evaluating the issues facing our aging population. There was strong consensus that governments across Canada have a critical role to play in supporting seniors, so they can continue to be a source of strength and wisdom for our communities.
I was proud to be able to highlight our government’s progress in appointing Canada’s first seniors’ advocate, establishing the Better at Home program to help more seniors age in place, and our age-friendly B.C. grants that support a variety of projects designed to help older adults stay mobile, physically active and healthy.
I have seen first-hand the benefit of these innovative programs for seniors in my own community and elsewhere in B.C., and I enjoyed the chance to share these successes. Seniors have told me clearly that they want to stay at home as long as possible, and we are working hard to provide the supports they need to achieve that goal.
As a result of the meetings, B.C. has agreed to work with our provincial and federal counterparts to begin work immediately in two priority areas. The first is ensuring current and future caregivers are fully prepared to provide the right level of care to seniors in need. The second is for us to work together to develop innovative solutions to address social isolation among seniors, particularly those living in rural and remote communities.
The conference also approved resources to help seniors prepare to age in place in their own homes. At the meetings we reviewed the progress of videos, a fact sheet and a self-assessment checklist that will encourage seniors and their families to consider and begin the much-needed conversation in advance of the many issues that can arise when aging at home.
I was happy to make some very strong connections with provincial and federal counterparts who share a common goal of ensuring seniors have everything they need to age gracefully.
The federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors will meet again in Victoria in 2016 to review progress and identify new priority areas for seniors.
Our government works hard to ensure seniors’ needs are met and I look forward to continuing to work with seniors throughout B.C. to ensure the very best supports and care is available for them.
— Michelle Stilwell is the MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.