Since July of last year, this weekly column has covered many topics, provided information for and about seniors, and, on occasion, tried to function as an advocate for seniors in our community.
With an ever-increasing segment of the population reaching 65 years of age and over, governments at all levels are starting to really pay attention to seniors. The increase in the landscape of population demographics is going to change services and programs to seniors drastically. Social planners all over the world, including Canada, have their hands full...
Nationally, the federal government has its own Minister of State for Seniors, the Honourable Alice Wong, and she is being advised by national senior advocacy groups such as the National Seniors Council (formerly the National Advisory Council on Ageing) and the Canadian Association on Retired Persons (CARP). Although provincially in Saskatchewan we have no similar counter-part, many cities and its social agencies within are also starting to pay attention. For instance, the City of Saskatoon has its own Council on Ageing.
In late 2012, Jubilation Program in Prince Albert, a local organization that over the last 25 years mainly dealt with young women and children, started to become seriously concerned about the lack of services and advocacy for elderly women. The organization discussed its concerns with one of its community partners, North Saskatchewan River Metis Nation Local # 269, and the idea to start an actual Seniors Citizen Advocacy Centre in Prince Albert was born.
In June of 2013, a proposal was submitted to the New Horizons for Seniors Program and in February of 2014 Jubilation was informed that the proposal was approved. About
one and a half months ago, the Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre was opened. The Centre is located at the Parkland Hall on the corner of 15th Street West and 9th Avenue West (just follow the signs in the building). The new program is directed by a joint project management committee totally made up by seniors.
A project manager, Allison Marcotte, was recently hired. Allison comes to the Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre with tremendous leadership skills, a true business sense, and lots of laughter, which is good for anyone. In fact, since 2009 Allison has been a qualified laughter yoga teacher.
Designed and driven by seniors, the following programs are now in place or in the early beginning of development:
• To develop and operate a Senior Citizen Resource Bank with information about programs and services for and about seniors, and, of course, accessible to seniors.
to organize at least six public information events for seniors within its first year of operations presenting general topics like seniors health, access to pensions, estate planning, etc ...
• To provide advocacy counselling and referral services to community-based resources at the request of individual seniors or agencies working with seniors
• To assess the skills sets of individual seniors and match them with needed volunteer positions within the community
• To provide policy advocacy to local governments (municipal, health region) and local representatives of other levels of government (First Nations, provincial, federal) regarding seniors issues
In general the Centre will promote the health, dignity, rights and quality of life of seniors in Prince Albert and area. It is the goal of the centre to recruit and train other seniors to take care of their peer group.
To obtain more information about the Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre, call John Fryters from Jubilation Program at 1-306-970-8675 or Barry Robertson from Metis Local 269 at 1-306-764-1172. For advocacy services or to offer your volunteer time, call Allison at 1-306-981-2564.
John Fryters is a 65-year senior citizen who provides this weekly column to inform his peer group with relevant information. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org