Se­niors need a voice

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY -

In the past two ar­ti­cles I talked about the growth of the se­nior seg­ment of our pop­u­la­tion and the need to cel­e­brate their con­tri­bu­tions in our com­mu­ni­ties and to our econ­omy. The growth in the se­nior pop­u­la­tion is the re­sult of the wave of baby boomers turn­ing 65. Be­gin­ning in 2011 and con­tin­u­ing through 2030 the se­nior pop­u­la­tion will con­tinue to grow to be 25 per cent over­all. When you fac­tor in those age 55plus (con­sid­ered re­tire­ment age by many) the per­cent­age is much higher. This large pop­u­la­tion of se­niors needs an av­enue to ex­press its con­cerns about so­cial pro­grams, health care, eco­nomic wel­fare, and sup­ports for ag­ing with dig­nity.

The Pic­tou County Se­niors Coun­cil is a vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion whose ob­jec­tive is to pro­mote the gen­eral wel­fare of se­niors in Pic­tou County. It is the rep­re­sen­ta­tive body for se­nior clubs and com­mu­nity groups. Among the goals of the coun­cil are to pro­mote healthy ac­tive liv­ing in our ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the pub­lic (the main pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles) and to pro­mote pro­grams and ser­vices that en­able se­niors to age in place in their com­mu­ni­ties.

To be an ef­fec­tive voice on be­half of se­niors in Pic­tou County, it is es­sen­tial that the Se­niors Coun­cil has rep­re­sen­ta­tion from across the county and from dif­fer­ent se­nior or­ga­ni­za­tions. Re­cent or­ga­ni­za­tional changes al­low any se­niors group (com­mu­nity, church or­ga­ni­za­tion, clubs, or as­so­ci­a­tion) to join the Coun­cil and to par­tic­i­pate in dis­cus­sions about pro­grams that im­prove their lives. Pic­tou County Se­niors Coun­cil has been an as­so­ci­a­tion of clubs, how­ever, over the past year this has been ex­panded to in­clude “com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives” from across the county in­clud­ing Lis­more, East River Val­ley, Scots­burn, River John, and West Branch with hopes of hav­ing Lyons Brook and Cari­bou River join­ing soon. Other com­mu­ni­ties with rep­re­sen­ta­tion are wel­come.

How can the coun­cil be an ef­fec­tive voice for pos­i­tive change?

Be­sides the work done by the Coun­cil at the lo­cal level such as the new ‘Ac­tive Se­niors’ pro­gram go­ing on at the YMCA and the ac­tiv­i­ties at the club level; the coun­cil is the um­brella body re­spon­si­ble for Pic­tou County Se­niors Out­reach (more on this in the next ar­ti­cle) and is a mem­ber of the Pic­tou County Ag­ing Well Coali­tion.

Provin­cially, the Coun­cil is a mem­ber of the Fed­er­a­tion of Se­nior Cit­i­zens and Pen­sion­ers of Nova Sco­tia. The pur­pose of this Fed­er­a­tion is to stim­u­late pub­lic in­ter­est re­gard­ing pen­sions, health care, and so­cial se­cu­rity mea­sures. The Fed­er­a­tion rep­re­sents 10 coun­cils and 150 se­nior clubs across the prov­ince. It strives to present a new im­age of the ac­tive se­nior in­volved in his/ her com­mu­nity. It ad­vo­cates for im­prove­ments that en­able se­niors to re­main in their homes as long as they are able, have ad­e­quate in­comes, have user friendly trans­porta­tion ser­vices, en­joy so­cial and recre­ational pro­grams, and have im­proved med­i­cal and drug ser­vices at rea­son­able costs.

The Fed­er­a­tion is rep­re­sented on the Se­nior Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil of Nova Sco­tia. The Se­nior Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, made up of nine dif­fer­ent se­nior groups, is in­de­pen­dent of gov­ern­ment and at­tempts to be fully in­formed and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the se­nior pop­u­la­tion of the prov­ince. While much goes on be­hind the scenes re­gard­ing con­sul­ta­tions and in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing, no­table re­cent achieve­ments in­clude the sig­nif­i­cant in­put into re­vers­ing the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed changes to the pro­vin­cial Phar­ma­care pro­gram sav­ing se­niors in the pro­gram the pro­posed in­crease of $10 mil­lion an­nu­ally. More re­cently the Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil has had sig­nif­i­cant in­put into the adop­tion of SHIFT – Ac­tion Plan for an Ag­ing Pop­u­la­tion re­sult­ing in many new se­nior ini­tia­tives and an ad­di­tional $13.6 mil­lion in spend­ing over the next three years to sup­port se­nior pro­grams. Pic­tou County has two rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the Se­niors Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil: my­self, rep­re­sent­ing the Fed­er­a­tion, and Mary MacLel­lan, se­nior out­reach co-or­di­na­tor, rep­re­sent­ing the pro­vin­cial body — Com­mu­nity Links.

The Nova Sco­tia Depart­ment of Se­niors is the pro­vin­cial depart­ment des­ig­nated to en­sure the in­clu­sion, well-be­ing, and in­de­pen­dence of se­niors. They do this by fa­cil­i­tat­ing the de­vel­op­ment of poli­cies on ag­ing and pro­grams for se­niors across gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. Its man­date is to lead the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ‘Ac­tion Plan for an Ag­ing Pop­u­la­tion’ and to serve as a sin­gle en­try point to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment about pro­grams and ser­vices for se­niors.

In ad­di­tion to the pro­vin­cial con­nec­tions, the Coun­cil and the Fed­er­a­tion are mem­bers of the Na­tional Pen­sion­ers Fed­er­a­tion (NPF) with mem­ber­ship on the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive. The NPF is an or­ga­ni­za­tion of 350 se­nior or­ga­ni­za­tions across Canada with a col­lec­tive mem­ber­ship ap­proach­ing one mil­lion se­niors. Its mis­sion is to stim­u­late pub­lic in­ter­est in the wel­fare of ag­ing Cana­di­ans.

It is clear through our as­so­ci­a­tions provin­cially and na­tion­ally that the Pic­tou Se­niors Coun­cil can be an ef­fec­tive voice for se­niors through the ap­pro­pri­ate chan­nels. Things af­fect­ing to­day’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion are health care, af­ford­able drug pro­grams, the need to in­crease CPP ben­e­fits, life­style pro­grams and sup­ports, pre­vent­ing iso­la­tion, hous­ing, af­ford­able trans­porta­tion, im­proved postal ser­vice, care­givers and care­givers sup­ports, and end of life sup­port. A com­mon voice on these is­sues is needed.

Nova Sco­tians be­tween the ages of 55 and 75 make up the largest vot­ing bloc in the prov­ince. Se­cur­ing the votes of se­niors is a pri­or­ity for all the ma­jor par­ties. Se­niors are re­cruited to help get out vot­ers and to man polling sta­tions. Clar­ity on the is­sues fac­ing older cit­i­zens is needed to have a clear and ef­fec­tive voice for their needs. Hav­ing a united voice is even far more ef­fec­tive.

The Pic­tou County Se­niors Coun­cil can be that voice for Pic­tou County se­niors. If you wish more in­for­ma­tion or want to di­a­logue about build­ing this voice, you can con­tact the Coun­cil at Se­niors Out­reach (902-752-8400) or the pres­i­dent at 902-382-2279.

“Ag­ing is not lost youth, but a new stage of op­por­tu­nity and strength” (Betty Friedan)

Terry Dono­van, Pres­i­dent, Pic­tou Se­niors Coun­cil

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