November 3, 2011 | News Releases

Bill would correct Liberal mistake and create a new Representative for Seniors
VICTORIA – This week’s stories about poor treatment and neglect of seniors at residential facilities are just the latest examples showing the need for an independent seniors’ representative, say the New Democrats.

Seniors’ health critic Katrine Conroy introduced the Representative for Seniors Act in the legislature Thursday, with the aim of creating a specific, independent officer to advocate for seniors in B.C.

“We’ve seen the tremendous positive impact of the child and youth representative,” said Conroy, the New Democrat MLA for Kootenay West. “A representative for seniors could have a similar impact, addressing the mistakes made by the Liberal government.

“The stories that have come out this week have shown pretty clearly that seniors need their own independent voice, in the same way that children and youth needed their own voice. The representative for seniors will accomplish that.”

On Monday, New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix raised the issue of Eldon Mooney, a senior who choked to death while being fed at a facility in North Vancouver; the facility, Sunrise of Lynn Valley, told his daughter he died peacefully in his sleep. On Wednesday, Conroy cited the case of Ted Powis, who fell down a flight of stairs at Hollyburn House and wasn’t discovered by staff until the following morning.

New Democrats introduced similar legislation in 2007, but the Liberals refused to support it.

“Stories pointing to the need for this office have been raised for years,” said Conroy. “Earlier this fall, we heard the story of Ricky Spooner, who wanted to move into a new facility with his wife of 74 years. When she passed away, the facility refused to refund his $8,000 deposit.

“No matter how many times the stories were repeated, the Liberals refused to take any action on appointing a representative for seniors. They had to be pushed repeatedly to restore a child and youth representative and they finally accepted that it was the right thing to do.

“Hopefully they come to the same conclusion on the representative for seniors and support this bill.”

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe that the health needs of B.C.’s vulnerable seniors must be a priority.