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New advocate must be independent: Wildrose

EDMONTON, AB (November 18, 2013): The new Seniors’ Advocate announced today fails to meet the growing demands facing seniors in our province because the government did not make it an independent office, Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle said today.

 The new Seniors’ Advocate, along with a new Health Advocate, will both directly report to the Health Minister’s office. The announcement comes the same day that Bill 208, the Seniors’ Advocate Act, introduced by Towle, is set to be debated. Towle said that while the new office is a good first step, it is a far cry from what seniors and patients have been asking for. “Under this PC government, we have seen seniors suffer from closures of long-term care beds, a divorce by nursing home policy and lower standards of care. Now they are failing to institute a seniors’ advocate office that can do its job free from political interference,” Towle said. “We were hoping the government would have sent a strong message today to our seniors. Seniors have made it clear that they want action and an independent voice at the table.” Under Bill 208, the Wildrose Seniors’ Advocate would be granted similar powers as the Child and Youth Advocate office by reporting directly to the Legislature, having power to investigate complaints launched by seniors and the ability to perform system wide audits to explore better ways to deliver care. Towle said despite today’s announcement, she’s hoping all MLAs in the house will support Bill 208. “We need to tell seniors that they deserve the same voice that is granted through the Child and Youth Advocate’s office,” Towle said. “Today, we are half way to ensuring the seniors who built our province have an independent voice, let’s make sure we finish the job.”