Alberta should follow Manitoba’s lead and bring back a Seniors Advocate, improve Seniors’ Care

Alberta should follow Manitoba’s lead and bring back a Seniors Advocate, improve Seniors’ Care

EDMONTON Yesterday’s Speech from the Throne in Manitoba laid out the new government’s agenda. The speech includes commitments to: “increase the hours of direct care for each senior living in personal care homes. And create a Seniors Advocate — a strong, independent voice for seniors and their families,” as well as a commitment to increase home care support for seniors to remain in their homes.

For years, Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta have been advocating for an independent, legislated, and properly empowered seniors advocate. Manitoba will now be joining British Columbia in having a Seniors Advocate with real teeth to conduct monitoring and analysis of seniors’ services, and to make recommendations to address issues and make long-overdue changes to the way that care is provided. Unfortunately, the UCP government has consistently insisted there is no need for such an advocate here since cutting the position in their last term.

“Alberta seniors deserve so much better than what they’ve been getting. They deserve an independent voice that can provide individual and systemic advocacy for themselves and their families,” said Brad Lafortune, executive director of Public Interest Alberta. “Following Manitoba’s lead by bringing back an independent seniors advocate would be a first step towards supporting seniors to live in dignity. Instead, this government has ignored the calls of seniors across Alberta and continued their reckless agenda of cuts and privatization in our health care and continuing care systems.”

Earlier this year, reports from the Auditor General showed clearly how badly we are failing Alberta seniors living in Long Term Care. Decades of underfunding and chronic understaffing in seniors' care have spelled disaster for seniors in our province. The Auditor General’s reports confirm the need for a new approach, and for better Long Term Care standards.

“The Auditor General clearly laid out how badly we have failed seniors in Long Term Care. We need to do so much better, and we can start by following Manitoba’s lead and increasing the hours of direct care for seniors living in care homes,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “We have been raising the systemic issues in seniors’ care in Alberta for many years: infrastructure challenges, chronic understaffing, the reliance on a precarious workforce without job security, benefits or paid sick days. Ultimately, it all comes back to fixing Alberta’s approach to Long Term Care which treats seniors as commodities, prioritizes profits over providing quality care.”

Friends of Medicare and Public Interest Alberta’s Alberta Seniors Deserve Better campaign continues to ask Albertans to sign on in support of demanding a Seniors Advocate.

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