Response to Provincial Seniors Strategy
“Change is good donkey”, said a wise Shrek, a sentiment we can all easily agree with. But what if that change is filled with good intentions but no concrete and practical plans to facilitate that change? The recently released Provincial Seniors Strategy is just that, filled with good intentions but not much else.
The state of our province is frightening at the moment, and not just in healthcare but let’s start with that because we have all been affected. The push to keep older Manitobans in their homes and maintain their independence is laudable and a great concept. Because of a myriad of health issues these individuals depend entirely on Manitoba’s home care system. Once the gold standard across Canada, home care in Manitoba has not only lost that lustre but has become an unreliable, unattainable and an undeniably lacking program where a worker may or may not show up because of critical staff shortages.
Announcing an expansion of the system is clearly premature because the staff shortages and sporadic coverage needs to be addressed before any plan to expand.
Chronically long wait lists for independence-affirming surgeries, such as knee and hip replacements are creating a situation where Manitobans have gone from being mobile with pain to immobility which leads to other chronic health diagnosis. And it’s not just a shortage of nurses and doctors and surgical beds, it is the lack of appropriate funding to clear the backlog. Orthopaedic surgeons are ready, willing and able to ramp up their surgical slate if only the provincial government would fund the procedures.
Announcing that Manitobans will be sent out-of-province for surgeries is clearly not the answer when we can make it happen here at home.
Now look at long-term care facilities, financial independence, affordable housing, access to services, etc. and you will find more of the same. Chronic shortages, temporary band aid solutions, buck passing and a promise that things will get better if we just promise they will.
CARP Winnipeg, Manitoba has been very vocal on the need for an Independent Legislated Seniors Advocate. This entity would:
- be a bellwether for issues long before they become problems,
- Provide the backbone for a ‘Provincial Seniors Strategy’
- The ‘PSS” would be used as a checklist of sorts to ensure that when government makes promises and plans, that they implement those promises or publicly explains why the plan has changed
Our Executive met with Minister Johnston early in 2022 to explain our rationale and the concept before they began their consultations. The discussions did not go well primarily because there was no real interest in discussing anything that wasn’t already pre-determined by the Premier and Minister. That meeting may very well have been the most open feedback they would have received as we have no skin in the game as they say.
There are so many seniors groups who feel as we do but will not speak out because they are in fact funded by the provincial government. It is understandable that they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.
So CARP Winnipeg, Manitoba will continue to monitor the situation in Manitoba. We will be more than happy to praise the decision makers and legislators that will implement changes and enhancements that help all older Manitobans remain independent, healthy and an integral part of our society. We will also hold their feet to the fire if promises made are not promises kept.
President, CARP Winnipeg Chapter