By Wayne Harrigan

Letter of the Day Times & Transcript June 14, 2014

Seniors show how activism directs political goals
To The Editor: How easy it is to forget!

 Ten years ago, when a New Brunswicker needed nursing home care, it often spelled financial ruin for the family. It was then part of the assessment to include family income and assets when determining what daily fee a resident would pay. Fees were different at various nursing homes, the most expensive approaching $200 per day.  This was unacceptable. Often a spouse (usually the wife) would be left at home unable to cover the costs of maintaining the necessities of life. It was a very difficult time for New Brunswick seniors. These policies were extremely unfair. This was not the situation in other parts of Canada. Finally a group of citizens who advocated for our seniors said enough is enough.

In 2004, representatives of many seniors’ organizations in New Brunswick, both English and French, met to form a coalition which would lobby the government to take another look at these unjust policies and consider the necessary changes. This group became known as the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. It is a voluntary organization and does not receive government funding.

 For 10 years this coalition has lobbied for changes in policies and they have seen many successes. No longer is assets part of the assessment. Daily rates are the same for every nursing home ($113 per day; not cheap). The ombudsman will oversee nursing and special care homes – he just needs enough resources to do the job!

On June 20, the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights will meet for its annual meeting. It will be a celebration of 10 years of achievement and a look to the future and what still has to be done. Plan to attend. The seniors of New Brunswick benefit every day from the work of this coalition.

We thank them for their tireless efforts on our behalf!
   Wayne Harrigan,