Vancouver, BC. September 28, 2002. Stuart Alcock, the Past-President of 411 Seniors Centre, says that National Seniors Day on 1 October is a time to balance good news with sober reflection. “Just one day after observing the Day of Reconciliation we must remember that many indigenous elders were harmed by their residential school experiences and that many of those who did not survive would have become elders of today.”
He went on to say “as the pandemic seems to be fading, we also know that many seniors became ill and a significant number died. While it is important to celebrate the contributions of older adults we must acknowledge that life has not been kind recently.”
Last week, the Seniors Advocate for BC reported that 45% of the province’s seniors live on less than the minimum wage and 25% have annual incomes of less than $21,000. Marion Pollack, the current President of 411 is deeply concerned about seniors’ poverty, especially among women, saying “we live in one of the world’s most desirable cities but many seniors are struggling.
At the 411 Centre, we are seeing people who are homeless and hungry and even more who are finding that they cannot afford food and rent without having to skimp on all other aspects of life.” With the ever-increasing emphasis on technological links to information and services, these seniors are left behind or out. “The digital divide serves to isolate people at a time of needing social connections and support” she added. Social engagement is recognized by the Seniors Advocate as a support for health and remaining at home.
411 Seniors Centre Society, founded in 1977, is now poised to move to a bigger purpose-built location on Fraser Street but even this has a downside. “Between delays and cost escalation, we will have spent $1.5 million more than our original estimate” says Alcock. This means that the Society has lost the financial cushion it had before. “We have had some success in fundraising, including bringing in $15,000 this summer which is being matched by an anonymous donor.
But, we need much more support from government and corporate partners to be sustainable” he says. So, while celebrating National Seniors Day and the UN Day of the Older Person, the seniors at 411 are not as joyful as they could be.
Contact: Leslie Remund, Executive Director at (604) 684-8171
Marion Pollack, President at (778 )879-4522
Stuart Alcock, Past President at (604) 875-8009
Author. Stuart Alcock