‘Citizens’ Forum On Health Care and Seniors’ runs March 6th

Topics range from pharmacare to continuing care and home care

A ‘Citizens’ Forum’ On Health Care and Seniors’ is set to run at the Golden Circle on March 6th.

Sponsored by Public Interest Alberta and the Friends of Medicare, the free event begins at 7 p.m.

Organizers say the meeting will explore issues related to the upcoming provincial election, with the main focus being health care and seniors.

“I think the biggest problem we are trying to take on with the issues around seniors’ care and health care is that, in our view, these haven’t been important enough in public debate. We’d like to see these issues talked about a lot more in the media and in public discussions generally when it comes to our political process,” said Joel French, executive director of Public Interest Alberta. “We are concerned that those issues may not seem like important ones during the (coming) provincial election, so we want to ensure that’s not the case.

“We are trying to play our part to raise issues like the conditions of care in seniors’ homes, the quality of home care, the idea of a national pharmacare program and the provincial role in that. So we want to try and make these issues front and centre for the public,” he added.

A number of speakers will also be featured and questions raised will run the gamut from, as mentioned, why Canada needs a universal pharmaceutical drug plan integrated with the existing public health care systems to what are the needs for Red Deer’s hospital.

“The chair of our Seniors Task Force, Terry Price, will be moderating the whole event,” said French, adding there will be a total of about nine speakers addressing different topics.

“It will take the structure of three mini-panels of speakers focusing on different areas.

“On each of the topics, we will have two to three speakers giving slightly different viewpoints for citizens to consider in the election.”

Overall, the purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about some of the major areas of health care and seniors’ policy requiring action.

“It’s totally free and open to anybody.”

Sam Denhaan, a local spokesperson for the event, added that the forum is also a means to gather information and to garner opinion from the audience.

“There are a lot of questions that people are asking about delivery of care,” he said, adding those range from a lack of capacity at the Red Deer hospital to long-term care concerns.

Another concern is the ability of supportive living facilities to deal with long-term care issues – the acute needs of seniors.

“Also the first item on the agenda is for pharmacare. Alberta seniors have been getting support for drug and medication needs, but there are still quite a few people who are not covered,” he explained.

”If the general population supports it, it will be far less expensive and it would be readily available, with a lot less hardship in that area.”

For more information, call Sam Denhaan at 403- 341 5491 or Jim Saltvold at 403-309-2387.

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