SENIORCENTRIC WEEK ENDING AUG 7, 2021

Scanning the globe for news by, for and about Senior Citizens

Quotables:

Our findings show that despite rapid digitization in the U.K. and elsewhere, virtual means of social interaction cannot replace in-person contact in supporting older people’s mental health.

Dr. Yang Hu of Lancaster University. COVID-19, Inter-household Contact and Mental Well-Being Among Older Adults in the US and the UK
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Seniors who met in isolation at British Columbia care home tie the knot

New affordable housing units for Indigenous families, seniors and students in Edmonton

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Federal health minister pens letter to Alberta, asks for science behind plan to lift COVID-19 rules

Patty Hajdu says she wants to better understand the rationale and science behind Alberta’s decision

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has sent a letter to her Alberta counterpart saying she shares concerns about the province’s plan to lift all of its COVID-19 health restrictions.

In the letter, addressed to Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Hajdu says she agrees with the Canadian Paediatric Society’s description of the move as an “unnecessary and risky gamble.”

She says recent modelling for Alberta forecasts a more serious resurgence in cases fuelled by the Delta variant, and all governments need to take reasonable steps to protect Canadians.

“The vaccination campaign in Canada, one of the best in the world, has significantly changed the overall context of COVID-19 here … However, it is still too early to declare victory,” writes Hajdu.

“Many remain unvaccinated, creating the potential for outbreaks, and we need to increase first and second dose coverage in order to protect against a Delta-driven resurgence that could seriously impact our citizens and our health system capacity.”

Hajdu says she wants to better understand the rationale and science behind Alberta’s decision.

Last week, the province ended contract tracing and said close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 are not required to isolate. And starting Aug. 16, those infected will no longer need to quarantine.

Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney have said Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, came up with the plan to remove restrictions and that it is backed by science and data.

They have not released that data other than pointing to vaccine uptake. About 66 per cent of eligible Albertans have been fully vaccinated.

Brett Boyden, a spokesperson for Shandro, said in a statement that Hinshaw has been “very clear on the sound medical reasoning behind her decisions.”

In a recent editorial, Hinshaw apologized for causing some Albertans “confusion, fear or anger” but said eliminating testing, isolation and contact tracing will help support the whole health of Albertans.

Boyden added that Hinshaw also frequently communicates with her federal counterparts.

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Seniors cut off from federal income supplement after receiving emergency benefits

$2,000 a month in Canada Emergency Response Benefit has rendered some ineligible

Chris Sherlock is facing possible eviction because of unanticipated clawbacks to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors.

The 65-year-old resident of British Columbia’s Cowichan Valley drew on emergency benefits last year after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his part-time work as a musician.

Now the $2,000 a month in Canada Emergency Response Benefit he received through much of 2020 has rendered him ineligible for the income supplement typically available to low-income seniors.

“This comes as a complete shock to me,” said Sherlock, who worked on contract as a tree planter for two decades and has no company pension.

“No one … warned me that I would be losing my guaranteed income supplement because of this. There was nothing about having your pension cut in half for the next two years.”

Sherlock is not the only one blindsided.

New Democrats say they’ve have been flooded with calls from Canadians aged 65 and up who suddenly find themselves cut off from monthly government payments due to the pandemic benefits they relied on last year.

In a letter sent to three Liberal cabinet ministers, NDP MP Daniel Blaikie said many seniors who received the CERB and Canada Recovery Benefit either do not qualify for the guaranteed income supplement or face drastic deductions to it.

“They’re just not going to have enough income at the end of the month in order to pay their bills. And what we feared would happen last year will end up happening this year,” Blaikie said in an interview.

“It’s not right of us to do this to Canada’s poorest seniors.”

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Union rejects wage cut for seniors’ care workers in Alberta, including Red Deer

‘It’s a slap in the face’

The union representing workers at Extendicare Michener Hill says the Extendicare wants to cut wages while managers and shareholders get bonuses and dividends.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees said bargaining resumed last week and Canada’s largest private home care provider wants to slash wages for its Alberta employees by four per cent.

“It’s a slap in the face. These workers have sacrificed so much to care for Albertans throughout this pandemic, and this is the thanks they get? It’s outrageous,” said AUPE vice-president Bobby-Joe Borodey in a statement.

The AUPE said the rollback proposal is even more insulting considering how the company has managed its finances. The company solicited millions from the federal government, ostensibly to fight COVID-19, but it had no trouble paying its shareholders over $10 million dollars every financial quarter during the pandemic.

“Imagine paying millions to shareholders, and then claiming you need government support only to try cutting your employees’ wages anyway,” Borodey said.

Extendicare’s proposals come shortly after Alberta Health Services offered a similar package, including a four per cent wage rollback, to AUPE members working in AHS General Support Services.

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