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More than 150 Salmon Arm residents gathered for a candle light vigil at Pioneer Lodge on December 21 to demand the Campbell government stop its plan to close the 75 bed long-term care facility and commit to providing seniors in that community with the support and respect they deserve.

Organized by the Salmon Arm People’s Coalition, the vigil was attended by people of all ages and backgrounds including students, seniors, families, people with disabilities, doctors, health care workers, and dozens of concerned citizens.

Over the past few months several seniors have been shunted back and forth between Pioneer Lodge and a smaller long-term care facility, Fountainview, which was forced to re-open beds after the facility had been closed. Two couples have already been separated in that process and it is feared that others will also be unnecessarily torn apart.

Family members told the gathering that no resident should be forcibly relocated at this stage of their lives and doctors sounded the alarm that bed closures in long-term care facilities are creating a critical space shortage at Shuswap General Hospital, particularly in the emergency room where severe overcrowding is impacting the hospital’s ability to provide responsive emergency care.

The Coalition, which has kicked off a petition campaign to save Pioneer Lodge, vows to continue its fightback against the government’s attack on seniors.