We appreciate that the government of B.C. is following the recommendation of the B.C. Ombudsperson and will appoint a seniors’ advocate.
We are writing now, though, since we agree with all other seniors’ organizations in B.C., which believe the advocate must be an independent officer of the legislative assembly with a budget adequate to fulfill the mandate.
This would enable the advocate to:
• be an officer of the legislature responsible and accountable for reporting to the public as well as to government;
• have broad powers, which could include elder abuse issues such as fraud, scams and injustices at institutions;
• promote a societal vision that is inclusive of seniors and intolerant of ageism through ongoing consultation and involvement of all senior citizen stakeholders;
• have sufficient budget to provide grants for research studies on seniors’ issues by the gerontology departments at our universities as needed;
• have the budget and authority to investigate issues and service cuts and report to the Legislature;
• provide leadership towards a zero tolerance of elder abuse in all its form;
• have the ability to report to other branches of government, e.g., Consumer Affairs, Finance, BC transit, local government;
• work with the ombudsperson’s office in providing recommendations for services;
• advocate on a systemic level for best practices and necessary changes.
We could outline more details, but the main point is that the advocate needs to be an independent officer of the legislature.
Editor’s note: Gwyn Frayne writes on behalf of SOS (Support Our Seniors) in the Comox Valley.