In the fall of 2007, then Provincial Liberal Minister Marguerite Blais held a province-wide consultation on "The Living Conditions of Quebec Seniors, " with her co-chairs Mrs. Sheila Goldbloom and Dr. Réjean Hébert. The issues heard from English-speaking seniors throughout Quebec were shocking.
- A sense of not belonging, nor feeling welcome in their home province - especially in the last 30 years.
- An expressed feeling of "once I reached that magic age of 65 I am put out to pasture and any value I had is gone."
- Concerns about the lack of accessibility to government documents and notices in English.
- The need to be able to access services in their language, especially health care or matters relating to safety.
- Concerns surrounding the loss of French- language abilities as they age or become ill.
- A shared fear of being placed in a residence where they have no English-speaking companionship or staff to speak with, thereby putting them at risk of isolation and loneliness.
- Financial security was a significant concern, especially for seniors in their eighties, and widowed women who never worked and do not have a pension.
- The lack of support for caregivers.
- There is a need to encourage residences to accept couples to avoid separation when one must be placed into care.
- More housing options are badly needed.
- A need for coordinated transportation services - especially for medical services in rural areas.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) presented a brief that identified the need to form a provincial network and voice for English-speaking seniors. This was well received by Minister Blais and the co-chairs, resulting in committees, surveys and conferences with the community. The creation of Seniors Action Quebec was the result of that process.
Our goal is not to be a direct service organization nor to duplicate the many services that already exist, but to work with organizations, to identify challenges, and work towards common objectives. We are also looking to develop local senior leadership and work with various levels of governments on policy change.