EDMONTON—As the candidates for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party and their supporters arrive at the Mayfield Inn for the debate in Edmonton tonight, they will be greeted by a 300-foot-long message from Alberta seniors.
The message will be in the form of a long line of signed postcards from some of the thousands of people from all over Alberta who have said, "It's Time to Take Action" on seniors care issues. Representatives from seniors organizations will be holding the long string of postcards to remind the candidates that when it comes to homecare and long term care, "Alberta Seniors Deserve Better".
"There is an urgent need for a real debate on the crisis in seniors' care that was identified by the Auditor General and the MLA task force on seniors care," says Noel Somerville, Chair of Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force. "Even Peter Lougheed has criticized the leadership candidates, saying 'I'm not fully satisfied with the priority given to seniors in Alberta.' Yet we fail to see any real debate on seniors issues beyond vague platitudes.
"Public Interest Alberta's Seniors Task Force began meeting with each of the leadership candidates back in July. "Despite the fact that seniors' care has been a hot political issue for the past two years, it was deeply disturbing that a number of leadership candidates did not seem to understand some of the basic issues facing seniors and don't have a position on the key concerns," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.
"For example, most of the candidates did not seem to appreciate how difficult it is for many seniors to be able to get the home care they need in order to stay in their homes. In addition, most of the candidates appear not to see any problem with Alberta's ongoing conversion of long-term care facilities to designated assisted living facilities, thereby forcing many seniors and their families to pay thousands of dollars a month for the services that they require.
"On the positive side, the idea that seems to have the support from most leadership candidates is the establishment of an Independent Seniors Advocate as an officer of the legislature. However, said Moore-Kilgannon, "there is much more that we need to know about where these candidates stand on seniors' issues, and the only way we are going to find out is to have a genuine debate on the real concerns that are affecting the lives of Alberta's seniors."
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