More smoke-free housing and a food program for seniors were two of the ideas discussed Thursday in the P.E.I. Legislature.
The MLA for Tignish-Palmer Road raised concerns about the number of government-owned seniors homes that continue to allow smoking.
"Fifty-six per cent – correct me if I'm wrong, minister, of seniors' units on Prince Edward Island are smoking, 56 per cent are smoking," Perry said.
"The latest stats, 25 per cent of seniors smoke. That's a little bit out of whack right there."
'Out of luck'
Perry said he's hearing from seniors worried about second-hand smoke.
"This is a real problem. There are many people in my area who have serious health-related issues, and second-hand smoke affects them," Perry said.
"When they ask to move to a non-smoking building, they're being told, you're out of luck."
Perry said he's heard from seniors who didn't even realize they were moving into buildings that allow smoking.
"The problem is that so many seniors are so very happy to get an apartment that they don't bother examining the fine print that's in the contract," Perry said.
"They find out that they are locked into a lease or an agreement, and they have nowhere else to go."
Housing minister Brad Trivers says his staff tries to accommodate everyone as best they can, saying his department has "very challenging situations."
"Wherever possible, if there's a smoker, we try to put them in a place where smoking is allowed and if we can't, we ask them to smoke outside," Trivers said.
"Is it 100 per cent? No, and those are issues we address every day, and I'm going to follow up with the department, and see if there is anything more that we can do to address this issue."
Food program for seniors
During budget discussions later in the afternoon, Charlottetown-West Royalty MLA Gord McNeilly asked the social development minister about the idea of a food program for seniors.
"When you were the minister of education, you put in a program, that we encouraged you to do very strongly, which was a school food program, and you had a good summer, and then it continued to continue to go on," McNeilly said.
"If you've got the experience of learning how that program went across the the greater community of Prince Edward Island, is it a good time to explore a seniors' food program across the province as well?"
McNeilly acknowledged the success of the Meals on Wheels program, but said a provincial food program for seniors could be "something special."
"One of the ways that makes a senior feel good about themselves is to get a meal, to have somebody come to the door, get a meal presented, even if it's once or twice a week," McNeilly said.
"It makes a difference in that senior, and gives them hope."
Trivers said he would take the idea under advisement, but it could align with the new targets for reducing poverty.
"We now, of course, with our Poverty Strategy and Elimination Act, have very aggressive targets to eliminate food insecurity, and that includes among seniors," Trivers said.
"This is definitely something that we would look at as part of our plan to offset food insecurity among that population, extending the food program to seniors."
Trivers said government is looking at creating a seniors' navigator, who could help with housing issues, but also other government programs.
"Right now, we're calling it a seniors' navigator, that would really help seniors who are having trouble navigating government, to get the programs and services they need," Trivers said.
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