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Plan for self-sufficiency in old age, MLA Larson advises Rotary Club members at Osoyoos lunch
People approaching senior years should start planning now to look after themselves in old age and not count on the government, says MLA Linda Larson.
The Boundary-Similkameen Liberal provincial member was guest speaker at the weekly lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Osoyoos Thursday, where she also spoke about her experiences as a new MLA.
“Within the next 10 years there will be a major crisis … we couldn’t possibly build enough beds to house everybody in a facility,” said Larson, pointing to the number of baby boomers reaching their senior years.
Larson also said average life expectancies are about 15 years longer than when medical and pension programs were set up following the Second World War to look after returning veterans.
“We haven’t put enough money into the system across the country to support ourselves,” she said. The system doesn’t have the money to cope with people living longer, she added.
“It’s too much of a strain,” Larson said. “We couldn’t possibly financially maintain it.”
Instead she advises people to plan now, while they’re 55, 60 or 65 how they will take care of themselves in their own homes and what they will do when they can’t drive anymore.
Larson acknowledges there is a shortage of people to care for the elderly in their own homes, but she says more caregivers will gradually be trained.
The Better at Home program, which assists seniors wanting to remain in their own homes, is being expanded to 68 communities across the province because it was so successful, Larson said.
Larson also advises people to state their wishes for end-of-life care in a legally-binding document.
“Don’t leave it up to a relative who is emotionally upset,” she said. “Do it now. Most people tend not to even think about that until they’re 85. That’s too late.”
Larson also spoke of her experiences at the B.C. Legislature.
As deputy whip, she said, her job is like “herding cats,” but it has taught her quickly how the government system works.
She’s not impressed by how complicated provincial government is compared to municipal government.
“Municipal government is simple and straightforward,” she said. “With provincial government it takes so damn long because the process has 20 steps instead of two … You have to go through this whole process and it’s painful. It’s incredibly painful.”
The MLA has high praise for staff at the legislature, both those working for the Liberal caucus and non-partisan employees of the legislature.
“What an amazing group of people that work in that building,” Larson said. “Friendly, supportive and helpful.”
The media at the Legislature have made fun of new MLAs getting lost, she said, but staff have been extremely helpful to lost MLAs.
“I’ve been lost in the building twice,” said Larson. “Once I had to have an NDP fellow show me the way out.”