Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. (Black Press Media file photos)

DOERKSON: Seniors are the backbone of B.C.’s culture

Lorne Doerkson’s column to the Free Press

It’s been an emotional few weeks for our province, and for much of the world.

The passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has had a profound impact, not only on our institutions, but also on individuals. The Queen has been a model of stability and strength for 70 years, and no matter your thoughts on the monarchy, it is strange to imagine a world without that constant symbol.

I have been reflecting on the Queen’s legacy over the last few days — her commitment to service, her quiet strength and her strong sense of duty to her nation. But I have also been struck by what she has demonstrated in terms of the valuable contributions that seniors make in society.

Seniors are the backbone of our culture. It is their contributions that have brought us to where we are today. They serve as generational and institutional memory, they have learned lessons throughout their lives and can in turn teach them to younger generations.

Unfortunately, I have had a growing feeling lately that seniors have fallen off the radar of the government. We saw that seniors were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet there seem to have been few changes made in the wake of the pandemic to ensure greater security for vulnerable seniors in the future.

It also seems like seniors have been left out of the conversations around the affordability crisis and inflation. Seniors are often on fixed incomes and are therefore deeply impacted by rising gas, housing, and grocery prices.

Additionally, aging populations are put at greater risk by the health care crisis and doctors shortage. It is so important for seniors to have family doctors, for everything from managing chronic conditions, to medications and prescriptions, to screening for other potential health risks. But right now thousands of seniors do not have access to family doctors and we are seeing tragic stories as a result. Like that of a Vancouver Island woman who had to take out an ad in the local newspaper to find a doctor who could refill prescriptions for her 82-year-old husband.

If that is not evidence of a system in crisis, I don’t know what is.

And yet, there are few plans in place from the government to solve any of these issues or ensure that our seniors are getting the care and support they need. We must ensure that we have plans in place to ensure that our seniors can age with dignity, in the place they feel most comfortable, whether that is in their own homes, or long-term care.

We must ensure that seniors are not an afterthought of government, but a priority. It is the least we can do to honour their decades of service to our province.

Lorne Doerkson is the B.C. Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin


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