Liberals have failed our seniors

For those of you out there looking for reasons to return to the Liberal fold, I do not recommend you read Ombudsperson Kim Carter’s latest

For those of you out there looking for reasons to return to the Liberal fold, I do not recommend that you read Ombudsperson Kim Carter’s latest update on the government’s pathetic efforts to do right by our most vulnerable seniors in care.

Damning is the only way to describe Carter’s 35-page review of the government’s progress toward implementation of urgent system reforms she identified over a period of more than four years.

Premier Christy Clark’s “Families First” banner should be ripped from the Liberal flagstaff and burned in the village square.

Back in the summer of 2008, when Carter launched her systemic investigation into problems with seniors’ care, the ombudsperson captured the essence of the challenge in a sentence. “Seniors are part of a generation that had to do without and overcome adversity so they may be less inclined to complain.”

That reality was a compelling reason for government to step up to the plate … as if it needed a reason to respect, nurture and defend old folks.

Back in ’08, the ombudsperson’s office was responding to more than 50 individual complaints about seniors’ care including complaints about neglect in care facilities, accessibility of services, placement decisions, separation from spouses and the closure of facilities.

Carter’s investigation was published in two reports, the first being issued in December 2009. The final report issued in February 2012 was a 400-page opus containing 143 findings and 176 recommendations.

Carter said: “Our report focuses on key areas where significant changes should be made with many recommendations that can be implemented quickly. We need to provide a renewed commitment to some of the most deserving and vulnerable members of our communities; a commitment that focuses on their needs, listens to their concerns and respects their choices.”

It wasn’t as if Carter had blindsided the Liberals. Their neglect had been obvious for years. Many of the recommendations were no brainers and, as Carter pointed out, could be readily implemented.

Clearly, what was missing in the ranks of the optics-obsessed “Families First” Liberals was a will to tackle the mess they had made. And, now we find that will to do the right thing is still missing.

Carter’s latest report canvasses each of the 176 recommendations. Are you sitting down? No less than 105 are flagged “no specific response received” (NSRR). Another three are flagged “no progress” and just four are deemed “fully implemented.” The rest are “implemented in part” or “ongoing.”

What leaps off the pages of Carter’s update — beyond the staggering lack of progress — is the government’s refusal to address issues of accountability. For example: Recommendation #1 calls on the Ministry of Health to report publicly, in a way that is clear and accessible, the planned and actual results delivered by home and community care services — NSRR.

Recommendation #26 calls on the ministry to work with the Solicitor General to ensure that all employees working with vulnerable adults have criminal record checks as a condition of employment — NSRR.

Here’s one that will floor you. Recommendation #30 calls on the ministry to require service providers to immediately notify the police of all incidents of elder abuse and neglect that may constitute a criminal offence — NSRR.

If a community is measured, even in part, by its efforts to shelter and care for its most needy elders, then this community under the Liberals has failed miserably. For this breach of trust alone, the “Families First” bunch deserve to have their butts kicked at the polls. M

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