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Seniors ‘disheartened’ with B.C. budget: retired persons’ association

Advocacy groups says services needed for this demographic ‘barely mentioned’
South Surrey resident Ramona Kaptyn has been appointed CARP chief advocacy and communications officer for Western Canada��(British Columbia and Alberta). (Contributed photo)

A seniors’ advocacy group with more than 3,000 members in Surrey and White Rock says services needed for this demographic were “barely mentioned” in B.C.’s budget 2024.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) in B.C. said in a news release that most of what’s in the budget, as far as seniors are concerned, is “secondarily support” and that “in a nutshell, older adults who vote and need numerous services were barely mentioned.”

CARP, with a membership of more than 20,000 province-wide, reports that a majority of 150 seniors from Surrey and White Rock who met with opposition MLAs on March 1 were “disheartened” with how long the NDP government has taken to address their concerns.

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Major concerns for CARP include long surgical wait times, more support for home care, the “heel-dragging in fast-tracking out-of-province and internationally trained doctors/healthcare workers, and free vaccines like shingles that will help in keeping older adults out of emergency rooms and hospitals,” the press release reads.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy tables the budget in the legislative assembly at the legislature in Victoria, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Ramona Kaptyn, a Surrey resident and CARP BC’s chief advocacy and communications officer, remarked that while the provincial government has made” a plethora” of announcements on home care and increasing medical staff, these will take a long time.

“For example, the $733 million in new federal funding for B.C. seniors care is welcome, but won’t go far,” she said. “This ‘Aging with Dignity’ agreement is aimed at increasing home support, adding staff to long-term care and dementia care facilities, as well as expanding palliative care options. It has to be spread over five years and there is nothing for the supports home care requires.

“Studies and polls conducted by CARP and others show that the majority of older adults want to age at home,” Kaptyn added. “To do so, equipment like walkers and rollators, higher toilets, walk-in showers and other assistance devices are often required. The federal government covers some expenses but not all. Add to this the high price of hearing aids that many seniors require but can’t buy due to cost. They go without and loss of hearing can cause isolationism and dementia.”

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CARP is gearing up to deliver to deliver its “big five” priorities to all provincial political parties before the Oct. 19 general election and will then monitor how they and their MLA candidates respond.

“Needs are immediate and urgent. Promises are wonderful but action trumps all. Do research, let candidates know your concerns, write emails, phone, speak up,” Kaptyn advises fellow seniors.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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