A brief summary of what brought us to the creation of Seniors Action Quebec. To do this, we have to go back to the fall of 2007 when the Provincial Liberal Minister Margurite Blais held a province-wide consultation on "The Living Conditions of Quebec Seniors". Co-chairing this process was Mrs. Sheila Goldbloom and Dr. Rejean Hebert, our current Health Minister along with Madame Blais.
What was heard from the English-speaking communities throughout Quebec was extremely heart wrenching.
In point form I will highlight a few key messages that were brought forward:
- There was an extreme sense of not belonging nor feeling welcome in their home province especially in the last 30 years.
- A 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, such as announcements in the metros, as an example.
- Many spoke of the ability to be fluently bilingual or at least able to get by now but what happens as they age or become ill and lose their ability to speak French or complete forms. They want the assurance that when it comes to complex matters such as medical terms they can receive services in English.
- These were great fear of being placed in a residence that they are such a minority they have no companionship or staff to speak with, so they become totally cut off and isolated.
- Financial security was right up there, especially for the seniors that are in their eighties as many are women who are on their own as they outlived their husbands, did not work outside the home in the day, so they do not qualify to receive any Quebec Pension. Yet they feel frustrated that some members of society have: that they are a drain on society and there will be nothing left for the younger people". They feel society needs to look back at how these families took care of their ageing parents, in -laws and partners, in the home until they passed away. Therefore saving society a good deal of money. They worked hard and paid taxes all their lives.
- The lack of support to assist the care giver, encourage residences to that into account the need to provide some accomondation for couples who have been together for many years and suddenly one partner has to be placed. This unbearable for some to be separated at this stage of their lives. Have a few rooms that are geared to accept couples.
- More subsidized housing is needed and coordinated transportation services where individuals must come from rural regions into the city for radiation treatments perhaps ten (10) days in a row, or for medical appointments and they no longer drive.
And the shopping list went on and on.
As the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) presented its brief they called for the need to form a provincial network and voice for English-speaking seniors. This was well received by Mme. Blais and the co-chairs. Work followed in the form of committees, surveys, conferences and out of that process grew what we know today as Seniors Action Quebec.
Our goal is not to be a direct service organization nor to duplicate the many good services that exist.
Our role is to work with organizations, to identify challenges, work towards s common objectives, through this create local senior leadership and when necessary work with governments on policy change.