N.L.'s new seniors' advocate has 5 main priorities. Here they are

·2 min read
Seniors' Advocate Susan Walsh  (Terry Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Seniors' Advocate Susan Walsh (Terry Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Terry Roberts/CBC
Terry Roberts/CBC

Housing, health care and ways to keep seniors thriving in their own homes are all on the agenda of Newfoundland and Labrador's new seniors' advocate.

Susan Walsh, a longtime social worker who was most recently deputy minister of the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development, spoke to members of the media Thursday, which was just her second day on the job.

"I'm here to represent the seniors of this province, and I want to be sure that I am well aligned with what we're all hearing," said Walsh. She said seniors need to be able to voice their concerns, particularly as the province continues to assess its standing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walsh identified five goals.

They include the transformation of the acute, long-term and community care systems; the rising cost of living; housing challenges; and programs and services that support aging in place.

Finally, Walsh also said she will be focusing on the current status of recommendations from the office.

Walsh will be stepping into a role that has been vacant since June 2021, when Suzanne Barker, the province's first seniors' advocate, retired.

Asked by CBC whether or not there was any harm caused by the delay in naming Barker's replacement, Walsh suggested a collaborative effort between advocacy groups and office staff to ensure nobody fell through the cracks.

"I think that the community organizations that represent seniors certainly continued to work diligently, and I know that this office itself, through the staff that we have, remained very engaged," said Walsh.

CBC also asked if she had sufficient resources to do her job. "It's Day 2 on the job," she said with a laugh.

Walsh said she is eager to get to work on behalf of the seniors in the province, who she said bring so much to their communities.

"The office has certainly done well for the last five years with the resources that it has, and I anticipate that will continue," she said.

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