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Seniors voice concerns to provincial advocate

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.'s first seniors advocate, was in Cranbrook on Thursday, June 19 to meet with seniors
Isobel Mackenzie

Seniors were able to broach their concerns and questions with the new provincial seniors advocate.

Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.'s first seniors advocate, met with Cranbrook seniors at the Seniors Centre on Thursday, June 19.

The East Kootenay is one of the last stops on her cross-province tour of speaking to seniors.

"It's my job to make, as much as possible, the experience of a British Columbia senior as good as possible, and as standardized as possible," Mackenzie said, adding that just because you live in a smaller comunity doesn't mean you should be receiving fewer services than someone who lives in the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island.

"I'm committed to making sure seniors are recognized and respected for the individuals that they are and for the great abilities that they bring and contributions that they make to our community," she said.

Concerns that residents brought up at the meeting included the loss of family doctors and the lack of ease in transportation to treatments in Kelowna.

Mackenzie said the doctor issue is going to be very challenging to address.

"You can't pull doctors out of the air and force them to come in and relocate to Cranbrook," she said. "You can try to put incentives in place that will make doctors want to choose to practice in rural areas, but it is difficult."

She said her job is to make government understand that while it's an issue for everybody, it's particularly an acute issue for seniors.

She also said it has been a revelation to hear of all the obstacles and hurdles there are to get to specialized care in places like Kelowna and Vancouver.

Other concerns included issues with elder abuse, to which she said there was no easy answer.

The seniors advocate was appointed by the government to act as an independent officer a couple months ago, under new legislation called the Seniors' Advocacy Act. The advocate provides independent advice and guidance to government on meeting the needs of seniors in B.C.