Tuesday October 20, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 8:20 pm]
by Mary Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
A focus on seniors and environmental stewardship is being targeted upon candidates in the BC provincial election, interestingly enough by retired teachers.
The RTOERO (Retired Teachers of Ontario) organization — with members in BC — is urging people to vote for age-friendly candidates, but also feel their key concerns “affect Canadians of any age”.
The process is about urging voters to email directly to candidates before the October 24 election, about what they call three key policy issues:
- A coordinated seniors strategy, including income security, addressing social isolation, support for friend and family caregivers, options for aging at home and rights for seniors
- Editor’s note: It would seem that the BC government has suitably addressed social isolation during the pandemic, for all age groups. Options for aging at home have not been overlying articulated during the campaign (the BC NDP have focused more so on shifting more long-term care into the public sector), though the BC Liberals are promising a $7,000 grant for people to upgrade their homes or pay for home care (although that won’t apply evenly in terms of impact, as not everyone owns a home). |
- Editor’s note: BC Seniors Advocate Isobel MacKenzie has been promoting aging-in-place for years, and gave the BC government the heads-up several years ago regarding the health dangers in long-term care.
- Availability of geriatric health care, including geriatric training for medical students, coordinated strategies to address the complex health needs of older adults, and acting to prevent and address elder abuse.
- Editor’s note: Other than obligatory attention to the difficult situation in long-term care during COVID, there hasn’t been any mention of geriatric training for medical students (though the NDP have recently promised a second medical school for BC, at Simon Fraser University). There has been general mention of elder abuse during the campaign but pretty much just generally implied within COVID messaging about social isolation for seniors.
- Ongoing environmental stewardship for the survival of current and future generations, including the responsible use of resources, conservation and protection of air, land and water.
- Editor’s note: Climate protection issues have been addressed broadly and in some cases more specifically by the BC NDP and BC Greens. The BC Liberals haven’t put much emphasis on dealing with climate and environment issues in this campaign, and their previous government did not articulate it as a priority (evidenced by the need for the NDP-Green coalition in 2017-2020 to bring it forward with CleanBC).
Issues have come further to light during COVID:
The RTOERO non-profit organization has been advocating on these or related issues for several years. “This year, COVID-19 has put some key opportunities in the spotlight and, in some jurisdictions, has shown us what happens when we don’t act,” says Martha Foster, RTOERO’s chair of the board.
Today RTOERO’s director of marketing and communications, Sylvia Link, said that the most recent full survey to determine member priorities was done toward the end of 2019, with the organization’s board of directors approving the top three priorities in early 2020, pre-COVID.
“The board approved those as issues for the year, which have become so much more apparent as we’ve gone through the pandemic,” Link told Island Social Trends today.
A voice during current campaigns in BC and Saskatchewan:
Through the digital campaign by RTOERO in the current BC election up to October 24 election day (as well as in Saskatchewan currently during their provincial election which comes up October 26) this campaign, the organization that as over 81,000 members is “asking voters to help us,” says the board chair. Over 2,000 of those members are in BC.
“Together, we can push for critical policy improvements to address urgent needs now and create a more secure and compassionate future for everyone,” Foster says.
Followup with the new BC government after October 24:
Following the election, RTOERO says they will invite newly-elected MLAs and government officials to meet with representatives from RTOERO’s Board of Directors, Political Advocacy Committee and senior staff to discuss the issues.
Notes Foster: “COVID-19 has presented an opportunity for reflection and conversation about what kind of future we all want. We’re eager to work with our partners, government staff and elected officials to make sure 2020 is a turning point in British Columbia and beyond.”
More information about the advocacy issues and opportunities is available on RTOERO’s website – vibrantvoices.ca/provincial. The BC campaign is part of Vibrant Voices, RTOERO’s national advocacy effort. RTOERO runs regular advocacy days at Parliament Hill in Ottawa and Queen’s Park in Ontario and has a similar campaign for the Saskatchewan election.
Apparently there wasn’t enough time to participate in lobbying for their priority issues during the recent provincial election campaign in New Brunswick, says Link. She notes that a federal election may be just around the corner.
Perhaps a federal landscape as well:
The Conservative Party’s motion today in the House of Commons (about establishing a committee to review government spending with a focus on the WE Charity scandal) could trigger an election.
The Bloc Quebecois say they will support it. The NDP are in a tough spot — they want the WE Charity situation explored but they’ve worked hard to push the Liberals to provide a lot of supports for Canadians during the pandemic, and the Liberals will be counting on support from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his caucus.
“It will be up to parliamentarians and the opposition to decide whether they want to make this minority Parliament work, or whether they’ve lost confidence in this government’s ability to manage this pandemic,” Trudeau said today, even though he also said that with COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Canada, that the pandemic is “far from over,” and that “nobody wants elections.”
The vote will come up in the House of Commons tomorrow (Wednesday October 21) after Question Period. That will be exactly one year since the 2019 federal election produced Trudeau leading a minority government.
The Liberals have 154 seats and they will be opposing the motion. The Conservatives with 121 seats apparently have the support of the Bloc’s 32 seats. That means only two more votes are needed by the Conservatives in order to see their motion pass (there are two independents, three Greens and 24 NDP). Trudeau has said it’s a confidence motion. So if the Conservatives get support and the motion passes, it triggers an election.
RTOERO – The Retired Teachers of Ontario — calls themselves “a bilingual trusted voice on healthy, active living in the retirement journey for the broader education community”. They’ve been around for about 50 years, with now over 81,000 members in 51 districts across Canada. The 2,000 members in BC participate in two chapters.
The non-profit organization provides group health benefits for education retirees. Members work in or are retired from the early years, schools and school boards, post-secondary and any other capacity in education. “We believe in a better future, together,” it is stated in RTOERO promo materials.
Link says that some members join before retirement, but that many within the educational sector come to the organization after retirement. By nature, educators seem inclined to continue wanting to continue improving the world around them.