“What do you intend to do to improve the quality of life and safety of low-income seniors?” That’s a question The Discourse heard from a resident of the Cowichan Valley riding after we launched a poll asking what you think should top the B.C. election agenda.
Leading up to the election, we’re publishing candidates’ answers to questions from community members. You’ll find all our coverage in riding guides for Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Nanaimo, Langford-Juan de Fuca and Esquimalt Metchosin.
As of Oct. 13, The Discourse has not received a response from BC Liberal Party candidate Tanya Kaul. We’ll update the story if we get one. Here are the responses from the other candidates.
Rob Douglas, BC NDP
We know that seniors are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but low-income seniors are also facing challenges in paying their rent, groceries and medication, accessing health care services, and dealing with isolation and loneliness.
Under the BC Liberals, we saw 9 in 10 care homes inadequately staffed, underpaid health care workers who were forced to work in multiple facilities, and laws that allowed privatization and service cuts. All of this contributed to the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing today.
The BC NDP government is making life more affordable for people, including for seniors, by eliminating MSP fees, increasing the senior’s rental supplement (SAFER), and reducing ICBC rates by $400 per year.
We’re strengthening our health care system by fixing understaffing, hiring 7,000 new front-line health care workers for long-term residential care homes and assisted living facilities, and ending multi-facility staffing that was spreading COVID-19. We also repealed BC Liberals’ laws that allowed contracts to be flipped and caused constant staff turnover.
We need to keep investing in seniors care, not cut it. I intend to stay the course with John Horgan’s plan and work for people who need my help.
Sonia Furstenau, BC Green Party
COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the state of seniors care in our province, Our seniors, their health and their care are not a commodity for investors to profit from – they are our parents, our grandparents, and valuable members of our community.
It’s time we shift our tax dollars away from for-profit long-term care in BC. B.C.’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie released her report A Billion Reasons to Care, which documented concerning differences within contracted care in BC. Despite receiving on average the same level of public funding, for-profit care homes failed to deliver over 207,000 direct care hours, while reporting 12 times the profits compared to non-profits.
BC Greens would:
Begin to shift the sector away from a for-profit private company model to a mix of public, non-for-profit, community-based services and co-ops;
Ensure that public funding is only being used to support direct care for seniors, and enhancing accountability by requiring annual inspections, financial statements and audited expense reports;
Give the Office of the Seniors Advocate more independence and an expanded mandate.
Furthermore, programs like our renters program, increasing accessibility to mental health care, increasing food security, and our work towards a minimum basic income will improve the quality of life and safety of low-income seniors.