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Seniors' voices being heard in B.C.

Seniors will be delighted to know that their needs were not overlooked as the Union of B.C. Municipalities 2013 annual convention wrapped up last week.

Seniors will be delighted to know that their needs were not overlooked as the Union of B.C. Municipalities 2013 annual convention wrapped up last week.

Many of the issues facing older people that have been raised by the Voices of Burnaby Seniors over the last year appeared before the UBCM as resolutions. When I spoke with Burnaby city council's delegate, Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, about these resolutions, he assured me they were enthusiastically debated and met with united approval.

Resolutions on health care calling for more consultation between governments, improved access in rural areas and doctor shortages were some of those approved.

There were also those reiterated from previous years calling on senior governments to ensure that doctors and other medical services are adequately provided to all residents in every community of British Columbia.

Recent changes to ambulance service have been met with concerns, especially in rural areas. In response was this resolution: that UBCM urge the provincial minister of health to require the B.C. Ambulance Service to amend its service model to meet the actual needs of communities, and that the minister provide adequate funding to implement that model.

The concern for lack of availability of hospice care has been high on the agenda of seniors' groups, and this was not overlooked when the following was adopted: that the Hospital District Act be amended to provide enabling legislation authorizing regional hospital districts to requisition funds to support the capital costs of hospice societies and centres located within a regional hospital district.

The public has been calling on governments to find solutions for the lack of care for the mentally challenged. Hearing no concrete proposals and left facing the problem "on the ground" in their jurisdictions, local governments have agreed on this proposed action: reinstating Riverview - that the provincial government immediately begin to undertake all necessary action, including funding, to reinstate Riverview as a patient-centred, wrap-around care, modern centre of excellence for mental health care and support. Endorsed.

There were several resolutions on the need for access to affordable housing, both new and the sustainability of present stock. The UBCM pointed out that their membership has consistently endorsed resolutions calling on the federal government to work with provinces, territories and local governments to develop a national action plan for housing, including a significant federal funding commitment, nevertheless, another motion was passed.

In recognition of the enormous problems and costs that poverty creates in communities, a motion was passed asking for increases in social assistance rates, including for those on disabilities.

They also called for an increase to the subsidy, SAFER, for rent paid by those 60-plus to raise the ceiling now low in comparison to reality.

Congratulations go to local governments for responding to the social needs of their communities and taking action by proposing solutions. 

Elsie Dean, founding member, Voices of Burnaby Seniors