Notley says Alberta needs to plan for future
Housing for Alberta seniors must continue to be a priority, says Rachel Notley.
One of every eight Albertans is a senior. Over the next two decades, Alberta will go from 575,000 seniors to more than a million.
Notley points out that Alberta hasn’t planned for the coming future, even as population dynamics change. Prior to Notley’s government, most affordable seniors housing stock was built between 1950 and 1970. More work is needed to combat aging infrastructure and a need for more continuing care spaces.
“Booms and busts have often been hardest on the Albertans who built this province,” said Notley.
“We need to honour seniors on fixed incomes and requiring continuing care.”
Alberta finally has Affordable Housing Strategy
Notley and her team launched Alberta’s very first Affordable Housing Strategy in 2016. The $1.2 billion plan quadrupled the previous government’s commitment to housing for seniors and families with low incomes. In addition, Notley protected the Alberta Seniors’ Benefit, implemented a home repair and adaptation program so seniors could age in their homes.
The focus on seniors has been the right one, but it wasn’t made without pressure. When global oil prices tumbled below $30 a barrel, Alberta faced mounting pressure from Conservative opposition parties to drastically slash budgets. Notley refused to make seniors pay for the price of commodities.
Instead of cutting services, Notley recognized an opportunity to put Albertans back to work and get better bang for the buck while construction costs were low.
Kenney quiet on seniors
While Notley heads to the polls in coming weeks with a proven track record, the UCP has been conspicuously quiet on plans for seniors.
Under Jason Kenney’s leadership, the UCP has touted an increase in privatized health care as well as tax breaks for individuals making more than $300,000 per year. Two-tiered health care might benefit executives and the wealthy, but it won’t make life easier for the vast majority of Alberta seniors.
In addition to increased pressures on hospitals and seniors homes, more Albertans will require complex care as they age. Due to Conservative failures to build continuing care facilities, Alberta hospitals face a lack of acute care beds. Over the past four years, Notley has built 2,000 continuing care and dementia spaces. Kenney hasn’t offered any plans to address the backlog of spaces.
“The seniors I meet every day make Alberta a far better place,” Notley said. “Aging isn’t something we need to fear, but it’s something we need to plan for.”
Rachel Notley and her team have set the course for a future that is for all Albertans, not just a select few.