Check against delivery
Good evening and thank you for the invitation to speak to you tonight.
I first want to say that I appreciate it has been a particularly difficult time for seniors here in Yellowknife and across the Northwest Territories.
Being apart from your circle of family and friends can take its toll on the health of seniors.
The purpose of the Covid-19 health orders is to keep residents safe and healthy. It is important that we continue to follow them to limit the spread of COVID, such as keeping our social circle small, wearing masks, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene. And as flu season will soon be here, I urge anyone who has not yet had their flu shot to do so, as an extra preventative measure to avoid illness and to protect our loved ones.
There was a great turnout to the seniors’ flu clinic at the Baker Centre, with over 500 people getting vaccinated. I know the Health and Social Services Authority is looking into providing additional flu clinics over the next month to ensure everyone who wants the vaccine can access it.
To advance our work of fulfilling the commitment to better serve our senior population and ensure they age in place with dignity, we are in the process of developing an NWT Elders Strategy. Soon we will ask for your ideas and thoughts on the gaps in service and how they can be addressed.
Seniors are a valued part of our NWT communities and one of the mandate commitments of this Legislative Assembly is to enable seniors to age in place with dignity.
In the meantime we are moving forward with improving programs and services offered by multiple GNWT departments and agencies. The NWT Housing Corporation has made a commitment to amend its policies to allow more low income seniors access to housing supports.
The Department of Education, Culture and Employment are committed to creating a separate Income Assistance program tailored to seniors and persons with disabilities.
And there is commitment to increase the Seniors Home Heating Subsidy and reduce potential barriers in accessing it.
The Department of Health and Social Services is implementing recommendations of the Home and Community Care Review completed in 2019. We want to ensure we can meet the growing demand for Home Care services for seniors as the population ages.
The 22 recommendations that were made will help improve our services to ensure seniors have the best possible home Care services and allow them to remain living in their home and community as long as possible.
To help decrease the gaps found in services for seniors living in community, we are also piloting a Paid Family Caregiver service which is currently running in Yellowknife and surrounding areas.
The Department is also working on improving long term care services for those who cannot remain living in their home. This includes renovations to the Stanton Legacy building, which will include 72 new long term care beds.
Another area of concern for seniors is protection from elder abuse. We continue to support and fund the efforts of the NWT Seniors’ Society to raise awareness about this issue, deliver community public awareness workshops and lead the Network to Prevent Abuse of Older Adults.
We are currently considering the possible need for changes in legislation or programs that will improve protection of seniors from abuse.
In closing, I want to assure you that the Department is committed to providing programs and services that help achieve the best possible quality of life for seniors in Yellowknife and area and the Northwest Territories as a whole.