The first day of the spring session of the Legislature featured the release of the Ombudsperson’s long-awaited report on the state of seniors’ care in British Columbia, and the conclusion of the report is a condemnation of the current government, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
“The Ombudsperson began this investigation in 2008 when her office was flooded by complaints from seniors and their loved ones about the state of seniors’ care in BC,” said Macdonald. “This is in keeping with what I’ve seen in my own office; from the time I was elected in 2005, it has been clear that many seniors have not been receiving the care that they need and deserve.”
Seniors and their families from this area presented their own experiences with the senior care system directly to the Ombudsperson, and those submissions were considered in the investigation that led to this report.
“This is one of the longest systemic investigations conducted by the Ombudsperson’s office, and Columbia River-Revelstoke residents were a big part of the process. Many of the submissions collected locally were compiled during seniors’ events hosted by my office.”
Yesterday’s report, which is a follow-up to the first report which was released in 2009, includes 143 findings and 176 recommendations, many with specific dates for completion.
“While the findings in the report come as little surprise to those of us who hear the stories of seniors each day, having confirmation from the Ombudsperson means that the government can no longer ignore the issue.
“The government has responded. And their response is an admission that they have failed seniors in this province,” continued Macdonald.
Health Minister Mike de Jong released a report of his own titled Improving Care for BC Seniors: An Action Plan. The action plan includes the commitment to provide clear policies and measurable standards for home support, home health, assisted living and residential care services, to ensure provincial inspection, quality assurance programs, enforcement and staff training, and to strengthen protections from abuse and neglect, including for those who report care concerns or complaints.
“I expect that if any one of us were tasked with setting up a system to provide care for the elderly these three action items would be at the top of our priority list from the very outset. The BC Liberals have been in charge of this system for 11 years. They have made drastic changes and deep cuts that have significantly changed provision of service.
“To lay out this ‘action plan’ at this point in the process proves that the BC Liberals have completely failed to protect seniors and provide an appropriate level of care.”
Minister de Jong has also announced that his government will study, and eventually establish, an Office of the Seniors’ Advocate.
“The establishment of a Seniors’ Advocate is obviously the right course of action, just as it was when the Opposition put forward legislation to create this office in 2007. The government could have passed that legislation five years ago but instead they refused to allow our proposed legislation to even be debated.
“Seniors just can’t wait any longer. The government needs to take action today. The government needs to immediately bring forward legislation to establish a Seniors’ Advocate during this Legislative session.”