The legislature is out, and that means the politicians are travelling and gathering input from their constituents.
Last week John Horgan, leader of the B.C. NDP, and Claire Trevena, MLA, hosted a townhall meeting at the senior’s centre to gather input from their senior constituents.
After short welcome speeches to the crowd of around 45 people, Trevena, who was acting as mediator, opened the floor to questions and comments.
The first issue brought forward was a request for increased advocacy services.
“We have a very good advocacy services team but they are absolutely overrun by need,” the attendee said.
She said that she works with seniors who need help accessing the funding that is available for mobility equipment. Because the system is not straightforward this is one of the many tasks that keeps advocacy services busy. She has seen many people wait a long time for the help that they need.
Horgan acknowledged that advocacy services are important and encouraged everyone to approach their MLA, as it is their job to advocate for the people in their constituency.
“If you can find your member of legislature or your member of parliament, that helps, but to go the extra mile, to do the third and fourth appeal need advocacy and we should be funding that through the seniors advocate office in my opinion,” Horgan said.
Another major topic of discussion at the meeting was health care. People brought forward concerns about premiums, wait times and the possibility of paying for parking at the new hospital.
One man shared a story of his wife being injured while she was in respite care. She spent nine months in the hospital recovering and when homecare wasn’t provided she had to stay for another year before she could be placed in a home.
“From my experience, the whole system is flawed,” he said.
Horgan said he hears stories like this all the time.
Whenever questions are brought forward the Island Health authority points fingers at the funder, which is the government, and the government points fingers back at the health authority.
“It’s not efficient, it’s not saving us money, it is not providing better care, it is providing walls so that people can’t access the care we need,” Horgan said.
One attendee at the meeting believes that premiums should be tied to income tax.
“We are going to run on a campaign to do away with Medical Service Premiums,” Horgan said.
Another concern brought forward by the seniors at the meeting was access to affordable, appropriate housing.
One woman came prepared with statistics. She said that right now in Campbell River 30 per cent of the population, around 13,000 people, are over the age of 65. In 10 years they will all be over the age of 75 and they will need access to affordable housing without stairs, with good bathroom access and wide hallways. She just wanted to let Horgan know, because the government usually needs around ten years to get projects moving.
Horgan agreed that this should be a priority because as Victoria gets more expensive people are moving up-Island. The problem, he said, is that politicians don’t look farther ahead than their four year cycle.
“I’m not preparing to be re-elected, I am preparing for one election,” he said. “That’s also my commitment to you because I want to move on.”
Horgan also discussed the carbon tax. What he would like to see is the revenue generated from the tax being used to invest in carbon reducing activity.
“I believe it is a legitimate tax and it should remain in place and it should probably increase,” he said.
After the meeting, Horgan was headed to an NDP fundraiser at the Maritime Heritage Centre.