My campaign is all about people and families. That means building a better future for our children and grandchildren while also respecting and taking care of our parents and grandparents at all ages and stages of their lives.
We need to look after the people who laid the foundation for our opportunities to succeed.
Big fundamental issues must continue to be our core priorities. Healthcare is front and centre: we must make our healthcare system financially sustainable so we can take care of people. That requires making sure our economy is firing on all cylinders, and addressing issues like our rising dependency ratio - the number of people who are retired versus those who are working to support them, directly or indirectly. We need to address the cost, quality, and availability of both home care and long term care. More broadly, we need to address affordability and the rising cost of living, which hits Seniors on fixed incomes hard. We must push back the NDP’s out-of-control tax hikes, starting with a comprehensive tax review. And we need to make sure our children and grandchildren grow up with good values, broad based educational opportunities, and good health - on a healthy planet.
Conversations with a wide variety of Seniors have helped me develop some specific new ideas that I will pursue in order to make a big impact without breaking the bank:
- Many grandparents are an important part of their grandchildren’s childcare plans - that’s definitely the case in my family. As outlined in my Believe in BC Family Pack, I’ll offer parents more choice in how they use childcare benefits, including by helping directly support grandparents or other designated family members who provide childcare through a monthly Family Childcare Benefit. This will also help to alleviate pressure on the childcare system.
- We need to learn from mistakes, both our own and those of the NDP. The government didn’t do enough to keep people in Long Term Care safe and meet their needs during COVID, in terms of both physical health and mental health. The effects of separation and social isolation were devastating for many Seniors and their families. I am the only leadership candidate who has called for pandemic public inquiry. I will specifically ensure that learnings from the pandemic are applied to Seniors’ care going forward.
- The pandemic forced us all to adapt quickly. Moving to online banking, online delivery, and online video calls with friends and family was a major challenge for some Seniors. I’ll invest in computer literacy and support for Seniors, in order to make sure they’re not left socially isolated, or left behind as government services become increasingly digitized.
- Volunteerism is a great source of meaning and belonging, as well as helping Seniors maintain mental and physical health through active aging. Because it can be hard to find appropriate volunteer activities, I’ll invest in better resources to help Seniors connect with volunteer opportunities in their communities.
- Getting around can be a major challenge for Seniors, especially those with disabilities. I’ll make sure we continually review and modernize handyDART services in order to ensure a convenient and dignified service with improved response times. I’ll look at expanding the supplementary Taxi Saver Program, which is currently only available in Greater Victoria.
- Tens of thousands of Seniors in BC experience elder abuse and neglect in BC every year, including physical, emotional, or mental harm, and the loss or damage of property and assets. Although many of these abuses are criminal offenses, few proceed through the justice system. I’ll work to strengthen the resources and support available to Seniors at risk of elder abuse, and to ensure that people who abuse Seniors are brought to justice.
- BC’s provincial health coverage of hearing aids is currently among the worst in Canada. The rising costs of increasingly sophisticated hearing aids has led to many Seniors going without because they simply can’t afford the devices they need on fixed incomes. Untreated hearing loss can lead to higher risks of social isolation, depression, and dementia. I’ll make sure Seniors aren’t forced to choose between hearing and eating or paying the rent.
- Above all else, we need to listen to people - everyday grassroots people who know what’s going on in their communities around the province. As Leader of the BC Liberal Party, I will launch a Leader’s Seniors Advisory Committee. As Leader of the Opposition and then Premier, I will make myself available for quarterly meetings with the Council of Advisors to the Office of the Seniors Advocate.