CARP London advocates on behalf of seniors

Originally published in the Londoner on February 21nd, 2010. To go to the Londoner website please click here

A legislative bill that would ensure the independence of seniors has its origins in the Forest City.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) is advocating provincial changes that would see a modified driver’s licence for Ontario motorists.

The Michelle Krohn Act stipulates that a driver can apply for a modified licence granted that no highway driving is involved, and only on roads where the speed limit is 80 kilometres and hour or less. Or, drivers can opt for a full blown licence that allows for highway driving.

According to CARP London chapter chairperson Dan Procop, having a modified licence for seniors will mean they can maintain their independence. Many seniors use their own vehicles for errands throughout the city, such as going to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, etc. And that, for many, is the extent of their driving.

“Right now health, tickets or accidents will trigger the ministry to ask the senior to take a drive test, as well as a visual and written exam,” said Procop, who is also a driver instructor for seniors. “Normally, they can handle the visual and written exam, but when they go for the road test and find out they have to use the expressway (Highways 400 and 401), not only is it traumatic for the senior but it’s downright dangerous if they haven’t driven on the expressway in 20 years.”

CARP is hoping that the bill will be passed this year. “We are very proud that Bill 97 originated right here in London,” he said.

Advocacy is just one of the many issues that CARP London Chapter handles on behalf of its membership. The organization also has benefits for members, such as reduced insurance rates. And as part of the Strength through Community program, CARP London hosts regular meetings with several interesting keynote speakers. “We presently have about 4,200 members in London,” said Procop. “And we get between 60 and 70 new members every month.”

Although the acronym for CARP stands for Canadian Association of Retired Persons, the organization is really for aging Canadians. “I believe that there should be no age limitation for the organization,” said Procop. The suggested age for CARP membership is 45, but Procop said that the national organization has some teenagers who have registered because they are concerned about their grandparents.

“People should join to stay in the senior loop, to get direct information either about advocacy or benefits,” he said.

CARP London Chapter will host its monthly session for members this afternoon with a presentation by Canada Revenue Agency – ServicesOntario. The meeting takes place at the Kiwanis Seniors Community Centre, 78 Riverside Drive, from 3-5 p.m. For more information about CARP London Chapter contact 519.432.2789.

© The Londoner

Keywords: senior, identification, dignity