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July 11, 2008
For immediate release
Minister Applauds Leadership of PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation Board of Directors
Social Services and Seniors
“I applaud the PEI Seniors’ Federation under the leadership of President Eric Hamill for their ability to attract a very qualified board who are committed to work on behalf of all Island seniors and with the PEI Seniors’ Secretariat,” said Currie. “Again this year, Government is pleased to provide the Federation with a grant of $55,000 to support their programs and priorities.”
The PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation is responsible for a number of provincial initiatives and partnerships with government, community groups and researchers that benefit Island seniors including the 55 Alive Driver Refresher Course, the Senior Peer Helper Program, the monthly Voice for Island Seniors publication and the “Planning for Prince Edward Island’s Aging Population” research project.
Currie acknowledged that the rising costs of drugs, fuel and other health care needs can be especially difficult for seniors with fixed incomes. “Government has identified three key issues that we are working on – the modernization of the provincial drug program, long term care planning and home heating. At our recent meeting, I encouraged the Federation to be a united voice through the Seniors’ Secretariat and to be an active participant in ongoing discussions as we work to enhance programs, services and policies for seniors.”
“Our goal is to support seniors and other Prince Edward Islanders to be as healthy and as independent as possible, for as long as possible,” said Minister Currie. “We will continue to work with the PEI Seniors’ Federation through the PEI Seniors’ Secretariat to deliver and improve programs and services for seniors.”
Prince Edward Island has the third highest percentage of seniors in Canada after Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Today, 14.37 per cent of PEI’s population is aged 65 and over. By 2030, the number of seniors is expected to be 28 per cent of the population.
BACKGROUNDER: PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND SENIORS’ SECRETARIAT
The role of the Prince Edward Island Seniors’ Secretariat is to develop and support plans, policy and programs that will improve the quality of life of Island seniors. The Seniors’ Secretariat is also mandated to develop and support public education efforts for seniors and about seniors’ issues. The Seniors’ Secretariat is an entry point to provincial government for seniors, community groups, other governments and business. Staff can provide information and direction on government programs and services for seniors.
Outcomes for PEI Seniors 2006 to 2008
The Seniors’ Secretariat has provided valuable input to the provincial government that has resulted in significant improvements in programs for seniors, as follows:
▸ a dedicated minister responsible for seniors;
▸ a full-time seniors coordinator position created;
▸ seniors now qualify for the Real Property Tax Deferral Program at 65 years of age;
▸ seniors are no longer required to pay the medical costs of nursing home care;
▸ family and personal assets are now protected when a senior enters a nursing home;
▸ rent charged for seniors’ housing has dropped to 25 per cent of income from 30 per cent;
▸ a Seniors’ Oral Health Strategy and steering committee;
▸ capital investments to renovate seniors housing units to better meet the future needs of seniors and communities;
▸ the PEI World Elder Abuse Awareness Day committee organized to prevent abuse of older persons in PEI;
▸ PEI Seniors’ Emergency Home Repair program re-introduced in November 2007, with 324 seniors granted assistance to date;
▸ 4,500 copies of the PEI Seniors’ Guide distributed since January 2008 providing information about programs and services for seniors;
▸ launch of PEI Seniors’ Information Line with 15 to 20 calls each week;
▸ a pilot community dental clinic for lower income adults, including seniors;
▸ a new Palliative Care Home Drug Program to enable many Islanders to stay in their communities and with their families as long as possible.
Current Government Activities and Priorities
▸ Modernize and build a drug program that is more equitable and accessible to all Islanders;
▸ Eliminate user fees for Air Ambulance and out-of-province ambulance transfers;
▸ Develop a new Long-Term Care and Community Care Strategy;
▸ Expand the use of nurse practitioners in the health care system;
▸ Explore the idea of allowing pharmacists to renew patient prescriptions for routine medications; and
▸ Develop a new Health Promotion Strategy with the public to build a healthier Island.