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Next step should be to create plan to protect seniors’ care, groups urge Premier

Vancouver - The Seniors’ Network BC is pleased to learn that the Liberal government has placed a moratorium on closures of long-term care facilities in B.C., a move sources in the Ministry of Health say was ordered by the Premier’s office at the end of June.

“This is welcome news to thousands of B.C. seniors and their families,” says Joyce Jones, co-chairperson of the Network. “With a moratorium on long-term care facility closures, people can rest a little easier knowing that they are not going to be uprooted from their homes or separated from their loved ones because their facility is being shut down.

“Seniors across B.C.- from Revelstoke and Vernon to Chilliwack and West Vancouver - fought back as health authorities began making closures. The fight back efforts have clearly paid off.”

When contacted by media yesterday, one health authority representative characterized the directive as a “pause” rather than a moratorium on closures.

“Call it what you will, pause or moratorium, the end result is that the closures are off at this point,” says Jones. “It’s clear there’s been some sober, second thought about the way seniors are being treated in this province.”

Seniors Network BC co-chairperson Phil Lyons says that the next step is the immediate creation of a broad consultation process to develop a long-range plan for seniors’ health care and housing that encompasses home support/care, community health and wellness programs and various levels of residential care.

“We would like to see the government embark on an extensive consultation process with British Columbians that relies on input from seniors and their families, health care workers, community advocacy groups and other stakeholders,” Lyons says.

“The development of a carefully considered strategy that protects and improves seniors’ health care would be money well spent.”

Despite comment this morning from Long-Term Care Minister Katherine Whittred that there is no moratorium, the Seniors’ Network BC is sticking to its guns.

“We are confident that there is a moratorium,” says Lyons. “The government has changed its mind many times on issues around seniors’ care. Often cabinet ministers and others have not been fully aware of the changes because they are not in writing. So, it’s no longer unusual to hear mixed messages coming out of Victoria.”

The Seniors’ Network BC called May 1 for a moratorium on the closure of long-term care facilities, a full public consultation on a strategy for seniors’ care and the formation of a province-wide seniors’ committee to monitor and advise the government on seniors’ care policy.

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Phil Lyons, Seniors’ Network BC, 604-430-6373
Seniors’ Network BC website:  vcn.bc.ca/srsnetbc