Toronto, ON, April 21—CanAge, Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization, is warning that the Government of BC’s new budget leaves seniors behind in urgent areas, despite promising investments in health and homecare. Critically absent from the budget was mention of long-overdue investments in the province’s adult immunization program—BC lags behind the rest of the country in vaccinating its older population against common preventable illnesses like seasonal influenza, shingles and pneumonia.
Earlier this year, in its groundbreaking report “Adult Vaccination in Canada: A Cross-Country Report Card”, CanAge scored the Government of BC an overall grade of D- on funding, access and public awareness of routine vaccinations for older people.
“Given how poorly British Columbia performs on protecting older adults from life-threatening and easily preventable diseases like the flu, shingles and pneumonia, we expected major investments on adult immunization in this budget,” states Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. “Unfortunately, while we saw a few positive steps toward better health and home care, the budget ultimately fell flat for seniors.”
Budget highlights for seniors included:
- 12 million for remote home health monitoring
- 68 million over 3 years for additional home care aids (PSW’s)
- Up to 1500 new, and 2850 replacement, Long Term Care beds only for health authority owned (government) facilities
- Home renovation credits for seniors and people with disabilities
- Seniors’ Supplement to be increased by $50
- Comfort allowance for seniors on income assistance increased by $20/ month
- Unspecified additional mental health support for seniors
CanAge is signalling major misses for seniors in the budget in addressing:
- Funding and access to adult vaccinations, including the specifically-formulated flu shot for seniors (especially in long-term care)
- Substantive investment in long-term care and assisted living
- Dementia and cognitive impairment
- Caregiver tax credits or supports
- Supports for loneliness and social exclusion
- Elder abuse and neglect
- Preventive health programs for an aging population
- Justice system and legal aid supports for seniors, despite other groups being identified
Last year, CanAge launched its comprehensive policy platform, VOICES: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada. Developed through an exhaustive coast-to-coast-to-coast consultative process, VOICES pulls from evidence-based reviews, highlights best practices, and identifies stubborn or complex issues affecting older people. The 135 recommendations in the document are grouped under sections for Violence and Abuse Prevention; Optimal Health and Wellness; Infection Control and Disaster Prevention; Caregiving, Long Term Care and Housing Resources; Economic Security and; Social Inclusion.
“Older British Columbians and their caregivers have been left out of this budget,” explains Tamblyn Watts. “Mapped against what BC needs to do to support the needs of an aging population, the Government of BC hasn’t gone far enough with making the targeted investments needed to do so, as laid out in our evidenced-based policy platform.”
She goes on to say that Canage “looks forward to working with the province to ensure the unique and complex needs of older people are kept front of mind as the budget rolls out.”
CanAge is Canada’s national seniors’ advocacy organization, working to improve the lives of older adults through advocacy, policy, and community engagement. We are non-partisan and backed by a pan-Canadian membership base. CanAge has quickly established itself as Canada’s national advocate for issues affecting older people in our country, having ramped up operations last year in urgent response to the threat COVID-19 poses to vulnerable seniors in long-term care. Find out more.
Laura Tamblyn Watts