The CARP Chapters and National Advocacy

CARP Chapters have contributed to national advocacy endeavors at an unprecedented level this year.  In municipal, federal and provincial elections, CARP Chapters across the country have organized all- candidates debates with support from CARP Advocacy.   Usually headlined by a high profile moderator or star candidate, the national CARP Debate and the local debates or all-candidates meetings have become obligatory campaign stops for the major parties at all levels of government.

The Edmonton Chapter organized a Federal Candidates Debate this spring that was moderated by long-time broadcaster, Fil Fraser. The Vaughan Chapter held an all-candidates forum for the Ontario provincial election featuring former finance minister Greg Sorbora. Several other chapters played a major role in the provincial elections that swept the country this Fall.

The Chapters have helped us punch above our weight and extend our resources. They work with the National Office to submit briefs to provincial governments and local media; they meet with politicians on our behalf, partner with local agencies and raise CARP’s profile at local events. The CARP chapter presence was felt across the country.

CARP’s British-Columbia, Nova Scotia, Calgary and Edmonton Chapters contacted their finance ministers in support of our pension reform initiatives. In consultation with CARP Advocacy, our Edmonton and Calgary Chapters submitted a joint brief to the Alberta government on pharmacare.

Ottawa Chapter Chair Janet Gray met with several politicians including Sophia Aggelonitis (Ontario’s Minister for Seniors) and Bob Chiarelli (Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure) regarding an Aging in Place housing project in Ottawa and represents CARP on the Age Friendly Ottawa Committee.

White Rock-South Surrey Chapter member and BC Representative, April Lewis presented CARP’s six-point plan to combat Elder Abuse at a Round Table on Elder Abuse in Delta BC, hosted by Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and attended by Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson and Minister of State for Seniors, Alice Wong. Minister Nicholson indicated that the government would be introducing measures in the Fall session.

CARP Nova Scotia’s Bill VanGorder was elected Chair of the Group of IX Seniors Advisory Council which provides input to the Nova Scotia government on issues such as Pharmacare, Fair Drug Pricing and Continuing Care.

In June, CARP Nova Scotia found itself at the centre of a drug- pricing dispute between the government and the pharmacies. CARP Advocacy had encountered this highly charged issue when the Ontario government enacted its generic drug pricing reforms and helped prepare Bill for the media:

We’re talking about 100,000 seniors and 100,000 other low-income people who have Pharmacare cards and they’re going to have to pay in advance for their prescriptions? They don’t have the kind of cash flow to do this. They’re really being caught in a terrible spot in an issue that is nothing of their doing.” said Bill VanGorder, CARP Nova Scotia, “Seniors being used as pawns in drug- pricing dispute”, CBC News, June 17, 2011.

Our Sudbury Chapter has pushed for increased access to medical technologies in the North and played a key role in lobbying the Sudbury Regional Hospital to launch a home nocturnal hemodialysis program to Sudbury for patients who require dialysis several times a week, but have accessibility issues. It continues to make headlines fighting to have PET scans made available in the North.

During her visit to Atlantic Canada, Seniors’ Minister Alice Wong met with our PEI Chapter. In Newfoundland and Labrador, Minister Wong invited Avalon Chapter Chair Ed Williams to participate in an Elder Abuse roundtable following which she met with members of the Chapter about local issues of concern to seniors.
CARP’s London Chapter has been a strong promoter of a graduated driver’s licence for seniors and others and has cooperated with researchers at the University of Western Ontario on a Senior Driver Study to evaluate new technologies meant to help seniors drive safely.

Harnessing the power of our collective voice is key to CARP’s success. With a new and invigorated chapter network, CARP members are well represented across the country.