Liberal MPs were in Agassiz Thursday to talk about issues that matter to seniors and there was no shortage of hands up when it came time for the audience to bring up its quams.
Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Jati Sidhu and Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré were in the hot seats gathering input from seniors on everything from the doctor shortage to transportation issues.
The town hall discussion was part of the federal government’s development of a National Seniors Strategy (NSS) – a Liberal initiative intended to meet the growing and evolving needs of the country’s aging population – a population that could account for 25 per cent of Canadians by 2036.
While still in the early stages of development, Serré told locals gathered at the Friendship House that the strategy will explore affordable and accessible housing for seniors, income security and overall quality of life including community programming and social inclusivity.
“We’re not just talking about seniors that are aging and [have] health issues,” Serré told the crowd. “The vast majority of seniors that are aging have a lot to give. How do we work on changing [the] social discrimination that we have?”
According to the NSS report, a senior strategy will require “concerted coordination and effort between municipal, provincial and territorial government, with the federal government playing a key leadership role.”
“It’s not a party issue,” said Serré. “It’s not even a specific level of government. We all have to work together.”
The crowd listened patiently to what the MPs had to say but had a long list of suggestions when it came time to offer input on the federal strategy.
Items proposed by participants included:
- The dire need for doctors. “You have to be alive to enjoy the benefits,” said one man from the crowd.
- Pharmacare/better medication coverage
- Affordable housing
- Affordable long-term health care
- Better protection for seniors against online fraud and scams
- Access to assisted dying
- Financial security – ensuring that spouses receive full pension upon death
- A strategy for improving senior engagement in Canadian communities
- Improved financial aid for seniors raising grandchildren
- Regular town hall meetings so seniors have a voice
Sidhu will continue hosting town hall meetings throughout his riding over March, with the final two in Cache Creek and Ashcroft March 14.