Save seniors' help program, Coquitlam council says

Marg Gordon, executive director of CVSS in Port Coquitlam, with members of Dogwood and Glen Pine seniors
Marg Gordon, executive director of CVSS in Port Coquitlam, with members of Dogwood and Glen Pine seniors' pavilions at Coquitlam city hall on Monday
— image credit: Janis WARREN/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Coquitlam city council added its name this week to the growing list of Tri-City organizations that want to save a much-needed seniors’ outreach program.

On Monday, council-in-committee unanimously backed a request from Marg Gordon, executive director of Community Volunteers for Seniors’ Services (CVSS), to write a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Tri-City MLAs to explain the impact provincial funding choices are having on the Port Coquitlam-based society.

By the end of next month, CVSS will lose nearly $50,000 in funding — more than half of the operating budget it uses to help 178 elderly clients who are homebound and/or isolated. The provincial cash has been reallocated, via the United Way, to Share Family and Community Services for the province’s new Better At Home program.

But Gordon told the Coquitlam committee that program doesn’t provide the extra support that CVSS does, such as grocery shopping for people who aren't able to do their own.

Gordon added the provincial government will be “inadvertently toppling” 31 other Lower Mainland seniors’ outreach groups under the new system.

Gordon said since her group got the bad news, she has been applying for grants and seeking donations. CVSS also plans a rebranding with a new name and board.

Her fear is that CVSS will have to close up shop come the end of the year should bridge funding not be met. Even more worrisome is how seniors who rely on CVSS will cope if it shuts down as many are not mobile and suffer from depression.

Already, Gordon said, CVSS has gathered letters of support from Tri-City seniors’ centres and Port Coquitlam city council; Port Moody council also plans to pen a letter to the provincial government to stress the need for the outreach service, she said.

CVSS’ 187 volunteers and two part-time staff provide care to Tri-City seniors — 100 of them in Coquitlam — with food, at-home visits, telephone reassurance, referrals and leisure connections at Coquitlam’s Glen Pine Pavilion for those with dementia and Alzheimer's.


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