Media releases | April 18, 2012

EDMONTON—The Seniors’ Task Force of Public Interest Alberta surveyed candidates of the main political parties with the help of volunteers in local constituencies on eight questions on seniors issues. The response was disappointing as only representatives from the Liberal Party, New Democrats and the Alberta Party responded to the questions posed by the seniors’ organizations.All the parties that did respond were supportive of the issues raised in the survey, which included:• Maintaining a universal prescription drug plan for all Alberta seniors.• Recognizing that the nursing and personal care required by cognitively impaired, disabled or profoundly frail senior are medically necessary and should be fully covered.• Committing to building and operating enough nursing home beds so that seniors who require that level of care do not burden the hospital system while awaiting placement.• Maintaining regulated and affordable accommodation rates in nursing homes.• Providing reliable and affordable Homecare to help seniors stay in their homes.• Discontinuing the practice of converting nursing homes to assisted living facilities where care standards are inadequate.• Establishing an Independent Seniors Advocate as an officer of the legislature.• Establishing democratically elected Patient/Family Councils in all seniors care facilities with authority to report unsatisfactory conditions to the Independent Seniors Advocate.“These are the priority issues identified by the ten seniors organizations that participate in the Seniors Task Force and it is encouraging to see these priorities reflected in the platforms of the three parties that did respond to the survey”, said Noel Somerville, Chair of the task force."However," he continued, " it is deeply troubling that the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties seem to have different priorities, as reflected in their published platforms which favour more privatized delivery of seniors care. More private delivery may be fine for those who can afford it, but it will not prevent seniors backing up into Alberta's health care system. It is hard to escape the conclusions that crucial seniors issues are simply not a priority for these two parties, and that they are prepared to abandon seniors to the whims of private markets."“It is disturbing to see that the two conservative parties are ignoring basic questions about the care of seniors,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Albertans have a right to know where all political parties stand on these important questions and parties should not be too afraid to respond to questions or so arrogant that they ignore these seniors groups.”- 30 -Media Contacts:Noel Somerville, Chair, PIA Seniors Task Force (780) 452-1846Bill Moore-Kilgannon, PIA, Executive Director. (780) 420-0471 or (780) 993-3736