Budget 2017 will address needs of seniors and ‘sandwich generation’, say pundits

Will seniors care be a top priority of the BC Government as it prepares to unveil the 2017 Budget on February 21st? According to some of BC’s top political pundits, the ‘sandwich generation’ and their parents are a very significant voting block that cannot be ignored.

Last evening on Shaw TV’s Voice of BC host Keith Baldrey, senior political journalist with Global TV, raised the topic of seniors care with his guests Jordan Bateman, Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Alex Hemingway, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

A question from Selina Robinson, NDP Spokesperson for Seniors, kicked off the following exchange:

Baldrey: One other sector that does have political capital and certainly gets the ears of government because they vote in great numbers…and that’s seniors. With a question along those lines is Selina Robinson of the NDP.

Robinson: John Horgan, Judy Darcy and I have been hosting seniors forums this past year all across the province. One consistent theme we have been hearing is about the burden of caring for aging parents. More recently, the BC Care Providers put out a report talking very specifically about this ‘sandwich’ generation. The generation that’s taking care of young children and aging parents. What do you think this government’s response should be to that ‘sandwich generation’.

Baldrey: That report very interesting calling for I think well more than a billion dollars over a period of years pouring into programs for seniors and people who are being squeezed…there is a lot money attached to this. I would think politicians would be smart to at least listen to this particular argument because as I say these people vote in much greater numbers than millennials do.

Bateman: Absolutely. What is the stat, more people voted over the age of 85 voted than those under the age of 25. Really astounding to think about it…

Bateman went on applaud the Fraser Health Authority which recently closed 80 acute care beds and transferred that funding into the community to expand long-term care and home care services. He also made reference to the BCCPA Strengthening Seniors Care: A Made-in-BC Roadmap report which indicates up to 13 of every hospital bed night, which costs an average of $1,800 per day, is being occupied by someone capable of receiving care back in the community. The majority of those patients are seniors.

Hemingway also spoke of the need to make additional investments in direct cares hours and home care. He cites a recent Office of the Seniors Advocate report which highlights the fact a significant majority of privately operated care homes are not provided enough funding by the Health Authority to meet a provincial guideline of 3.36 direct care hours per day.

During the February 2nd edition of Voice of BC, host Vaughn Palmer also had Baldrey on as a guest for his regular media panel. Palmer asked the journalists to preview what they thought would be a priority for the provincial government in the coming budget.

Baldrey indicated the government was likely to address two key issues which included increasing disability allowance rates, saying:

The other one I think…and they sort of signalled this, Christy Clark signalled it in one of her events this past week. There is a report this week about more money for seniors care. This is the sandwich generation – people taking care of both their kids and parents – and seniors vote. Older people looking after their parents vote as well. They vote in far greater numbers than younger people. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some money, some significant money – either capital or program – allocated to issues that affect seniors. Particularly when it comes to care.

To view these interview from the Voice of BC program, be sure to click on the image. To learn more about the BCCPA report and the #CareCanBeThere campaign click here.