The community is encouraged to attend the All Candidates Forum of Seniors at the Trail United Church.

Seniors get chance to talk to candidates, Thursday

All three Kootenay West candidates will be at the Thursday forum in Trail

Seniors face their own healthcare challenges, says Fred Romano.

“And seniors know the health budgets are underfunded,” he told the Trail Times.

Romano, a former Trail councillor, was referring to a January board meeting when Todd Mastel, Interior Health Authority (IHA) director, business support for Acute/Tertiary Services, addressed the room.

“Mr Mastel went through the 2017/2018 funding request letter and pointed out that Interior Health’s capital budget is $58 million for that period.”

This is approximately $200,000 more than last year, Romano clarified.

“Mr Mastel said that the $58 million will not meet all the capital financial needs in the authority’s area; IHA would need in excess of $100 million to cover those costs.”

With the BC Election just around the corner, now is the opportune time for seniors to get an answer to their hard hitting questions from the three Kootenay West candidates.

An All Candidates Forum for Seniors is being held at the Trail United Church on Thursday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Green Party candidate Samantha Troy, MLA incumbent Katrine Conroy (NDP), and the BC Liberals Jim Postnikoff will be on hand for the event.

“Meet the candidates and tell them what seniors need in our community,” said Romano, the forum’s moderator. “How will their party address those issues?”

The event will open with an opening remark by each candidate, followed by an open mic question period.

Each attendee will be permitted to ask one question, which is to be directed to a specific candidate. However, the other two may choose to answer.

Romano reminds those attending, that the forum is a time for questions, not stories about grievances.

The forum is sponsored by the Kootenay Columbia Retired Teachers Association and the Society for Protection and Care of Seniors (SPCS).

Like many families in the community, Romano’s eyes weren’t open to the reality of facility care until it became personal.

“My mother was in (a local care facility) for five years,” he said, mentioning she passed away in 2007. “And over that time I saw firsthand what seniors face.”

He became involved in SPCS to advocate for issues important to seniors.

“The SPCS spend countless hours on senior issues, attending meetings, writing letters and meeting with IHA personnel to discuss current issues.”

Over and over the society hears concerns about wait times for medical tests, issues with hospital discharges, waiting lists for residential care, wait times for MRI’s, home support, more seniors using food banks, and transportation for seniors to appointments.

The question is, are seniors being heard?

“I feel the SPCS directors and other organizations that meet almost monthly are doing great work investigating issues and bringing them forward to health personnel,” said Romano. “And the Office of the Seniors Advocate monitors and analyzes seniors’ services and issues in B.C., and makes recommendations to government and service providers to address systemic issues.”

The advocacy branch monitors five key areas; health care, housing, income supports, personal supports and transportation.

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