British Columbia’s New Democrat Leader, John Horgan addressed seniors in Prince George Monday to hear the concerns and issues they’re facing when accessing government services.
A crowd of about 30 seniors gathered at the PG Public Library to voice their opinions on affordability and healthcare. Horgan says it’s a familiar conversation wherever he goes. “I’m hearing about the challenges seniors are facing in communities, whether it’s affordability, whether it’s access to healthcare, whether it’s basic issues around transportation,” he said. “It’s access to services outside of the medical profession and the medical field and that’s where seniors keep coming to us and saying life’s getting tougher.”
A number of concerns were addressed including surgical wait lists, dealing with a shortage of doctors, and affordability. Senior Ken Ponsford was visiting from Fraser Lake. He says many seniors in his community can’t live in their homes anymore because accommodation isn’t available. “Their alternative is to either become sick at home until they have to go to hospital or move away and that’s a harsh thing to have happen with people who have lived in an area their entire lives.”
Meanwhile, longtime resident and senior in Prince George, Betty Bekkering says herself and many fellow seniors are concerned as they are forced to pay out of pocket for prescription drugs. “There are so many seniors who have to decide what they’re going to spend their fixed income on,” she said. “But often it’s at the cost of food or accommodation so I’d like to see a pharmacare program in place for seniors.”
However, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, Mike Morris says things are improving and he wishes for all provinces to work together and purchase drugs nationally. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of generic drugs that are on the market now that have significantly reduced pharmacare costs and prescription costs so we’re making strides. Are we where we should be yet? No. But we are making strides in the right direction.”
Horgan’s tour across British Columbia comes less than one year before the next provincial election, scheduled for May of 2017. He was also joined by NDP MLAs Selina Robinson and Judy Darcy.