Another new year approaches, bringing with it all sorts of possibilities and hope for the chance to do a better job with this earth than we have been doing.
We can’t control what is happening in Syria or the death of innocent children killed by a gun happy lunatic in Connecticut but maybe we can do one or two things here in our world to make it better. One of the things that occurs to me is making sure those two floors we need at Vernon Jubilee Hospital are completed. We have heard for months that it is coming, and planning is in the works, and this department or that ministry is looking at operational costs etc. etc. In the meantime, a pregnant 17-year-old gave birth in a hotel room because of lack of room in our beautiful million-dollar tower that nobody needed and wanted. All we ever needed and wanted and shouted out about was more room for desperately ill people in our hospital. Still coming I hear.
Every one of us needs to e-mail, phone, mail or whatever Eric Foster, our local MLA, and Premier Kristy Clark to spur them on to action to get those two roughed-in floors completed. And if they don’t act soon, look for other people to vote for in the next election that will guarantee that it happens. Talk is cheap and plentiful, especially for politicians, but action is what counts.
Another area we need to lobby government about is affordable housing for seniors; actually affordable housing for all low-income people is desperately needed. Our kids have to move away because they cannot afford to live here with low-paying jobs and high rental costs. Even if both parents work, it is tough to live in Vernon. It will get tougher as the senior population increases. There are now more people over 45 years old than under as stats from the North Okanagan Regional District show, with 54 per cent of our population over 45 years and 46 per cent under 45 years and this trend is continuing. According to stats for 2006 from the Auditor General, about 37 per cent of all seniors in Canada are receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement which means they are living below the poverty line, having an income around $14,000 or $15,000 per year or less. What this means in actual fact is that more than a third of all seniors living in Vernon and paying the going prices for rentals cannot afford to eat, or at least to eat well.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see we need more affordable housing, and while the government acknowledges this over and over again, still nothing gets done. It was rumored that six of the new proposed seniors’ housing units being built at Schubert Centre would be subsidized by BC Housing as affordable rental units but now it seems this has been reduced to three units and this is still no done deal. Remember, folks, that this is our money, paid in taxes, not the government’s money and we should have some say in how it is spent. But then I guess we do have a say. It is called election time.
I guess to look at the coming year and what we can do to make it better we need to look at all the gifts and blessings we received in the last year and acknowledge our good fortune. Making it to another year when we get old is a gift not to be ignored as we see our friends pass on. Living in this beautiful valley surrounded by natural beauty is another daily gift. All we have to do is look up. Passing on a smile is a powerful gift we can easily do. Small things for sure but meaningful both to others and ourselves. Maybe that is the greatest gift to carry over to the new year, the ability to perform small deeds to make this world a better place, one small act at a time. Happy new year.
If you have any comments or questions, contact me at 250-542-7928 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.