LANGLEY – Seniors in the Fraser Valley are being forced to pay the price for Gordon Campbell’s broken promise to protect health care in the region, New Democrat health critic Adrian Dix said today.
Just weeks after a leaked memo surfaced showing the Fraser Health Authority would be cutting vital counseling and treatment programs for victims of abuse and addiction, seniors programs in Langley and Chilliwack have been quietly informed that their funding will be cut with only 30 days notice.
“As the B.C. Liberals were claiming that the leaked memo was a draft document, the Chilliwack Seniors’ Society and Langley Senior’s Centre were informed by Fraser Health that funding for outreach services would be discontinued,” said Dix. “This news came as a shock to many seniors and their families, and to the hard-working staff who have provided these services for years.
“The Campbell government and the FHA have broken their word to protect vital health services.”
The B.C. Liberals and the FHA are cutting $1 million in grants to community organizations for seniors’ day care programs and $450,000 from programs to assist isolated seniors. This is in addition to cuts of $450,000 to Mental Health and Addiction grants to support community programs, including supports to victim of abuse. The 30-day contract cancellation clause was also used in these cases.
Funding cuts to the Chilliwack Senior Resources Society, which has provided service to self-isolated seniors since 1993, will directly impact 90 at-risk seniors and more than 800 members. The Langley Senior’s Centre, which has helped seniors with their independence and transportation needs since 1991, will see a nearly $90,000 cut in funding before the end of September and the layoff of workers who assist more than 650 seniors.
“Senior centres across the Fraser Valley that have been providing care and support for decades are facing significant funding cuts that will only isolate seniors from the community and put additional stress on their families. These are the programs that help keep seniors healthy and involved in the community and out of expensive long term care centres and acute care hospitals,” noted Dix.
“For the third time in two weeks, the New Democrats, not the regional health authorities, are providing information about what kind of cuts are being contemplated for their health care system. It’s long overdue for the FHA to start being accountable to the public.
Two weeks ago, the New Democrats released a draft communications plan prepared by the Fraser Health Authority in early July listing clinical care cuts facing the Fraser Valley. Responses from the FHA, and subsequent documents that surfaced throughout last week, confirm that the vast majority of the cutbacks discussed in the document are either already underway or on the table.
“Despite the premier’s campaign promise to protect and improve vital health services in the region, his minister is cutting health services in our region,” said Surrey Green Timbers MLA and deputy health critic Sue Hammell. “It is even more hurtful at a time when changing demographics in the Fraser Valley are driving up demand and families are struggling to cope with ongoing fiscal instability.”
Carole James and the New Democrats have written to the premier asking him to release all health care service plans and details on budget shortfalls in every health region.