The upcoming provincial election this fall has many thinking about the issues that are most important, and the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) is hosting a series of virtual town halls to talk about the biggest red flag concerns for seniors before residents hit the polls.
There will be three different online sessions, each focusing on a specific topic and featuring an expert to answer questions and address the issues at hand for older voters.
“When you talk to seniors, they're frustrated with how things are going and we aren't feeling that our voices are being heard,” said local CARP chapter president Kathleen Spatt. “In an election climate, now is the time to put forward our thoughts and ideas and push our needs to the forefront, so politicians can pay attention.”
The first town hall will take place on Sept. 14 at 11 a.m. to discuss the importance of developing an independent Seniors Advocate for Saskatchewan, to provide support in navigating the programs and services available to seniors.
Dr. Suzanne Brake, Seniors Advocate in Newfoundland and Labrador, will be present to explain her role and answer questions on the benefits of having a separate entity from the Minister responsible for seniors.
“[There is] frustration in trying to navigate the world of seniors services and program,” said Spatt. “It's not to say the services and programs aren't there, but its that people don't know how to find them, how to access them, or even about them. And a seniors advocate would be a one-stop-shop for senior services, [to] direct inquiries."
The second session on Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. will discuss the current state of long term care for seniors in the province, and why the push for better funding and a standardized minimum of care requirements is important.
"The pandemic has certainly ripped the cover off that [topic]. Our long term care is not providing us with the care that our seniors require and deserve, so we're looking for reform," said Spatt. "We do not have a standard of care in Saskatchewan [and] there's so many measurables out there that would indicate proper care is being taken but nobody's monitoring this."
CARP Chief Advocacy Officer Bill VanGorder, former director of Mont St. Joseph Home Brian Martin, and director of the National Institue on Ageing, Michael Nicin will join the panel to discuss the status of long term care in Saskatchewan.
The third and final town hall meeting on Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. will discuss the need for fully funded access to high-dose vaccines for the flu, shingles and pneumococcal for seniors, who are often the most at risk for illness and also under-protected by standard vaccine dosage.
“As we age, vaccines become less effective," said Spatt. "And the high-dose vaccines are so important because they're specially formulated for seniors, so they get a greater shield of protection from [standard] funded vaccines."
All of the sessions will be taking place virtually and are free to attend, with CARP asking interested participants to register online ahead of time to receive instructions on how to join the virtual meetings.
There are no requirements to join, just access to a computer, phone, tablet or another device to properly join the virtual panels. Video and microphone access is not required, said Spatt.
Spatt is encouraging people to join the discussion and feel free to ask questions during each sessions, as the purpose is to share and discuss some of the election topics most important to seniors so they can cast their votes in an informed state of mind.
"We're going to speak at the polls, and we want to hear what parties are going to do for seniors," said Spatt.
For more information on the upcoming town hall sessions, visit CARP’s website or contact the local Regina chapter at 1( 306) 737-5387 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To RSVP to any of the virtual town halls, visit Eventbrite.ca and search for the CARP Regina/Saskatchewan Virtual Meeting Series.