Province's $13.6M action plan on aging has 'fallen short,' says senior

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Province's $13.6M action plan on aging has 'fallen short,' says senior

One Nova Scotia senior says there are some gaping holes in the province's new plan to help older Nova Scotians with everything from employment to eating healthy and remaining involved in their communities.

When Premier Stephen McNeil unveiled Nova Scotia's SHIFT: Action Plan for an Aging Population last week, he pledged $13.6 million for 50 actions items outlined in the plan and said they "will require all of us to work together."

Those items include everything from demonstrating how to have an inclusive intergenerational workplaces to establishing a committee to address community transportation in Nova Scotia.

But Ian Johnson, who is the interim chair of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition and took part in public consultations that helped guide the plan, said the $13.6 million over three years "is not a lot of money."

"For a plan that's supposedly an action plan, it's really fallen short and doesn't really answer the question even about how that money should be used, let alone what should be done for all the recommendations," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning.

Marjorie Willison, co-chair of the advisory committee that came up with the plan, said last week there is money already nested in various government departments that would help enact some of the items.

She said she was "bursting with pride" about the plan and that it is "something that we can use to our advantage."

The premier said he believes the 50 action items are attainable because it wouldn't just be the government "breathing life into them."

"It will be the entire province and different organizations will take ownership of a number of those actions and they will be working on them in parallel, as will other community members and other organizations," McNeil told reporters last week after announcing the plan.

Poverty and health care not addressed

But Johnston said the plan also fails to address several big problems facing seniors, such as poverty and access to adequate health care, overcrowding in hospitals and inadequate prescription drug coverage.  

"It talks about poverty among seniors but it doesn't actually set out specific measures to help increase income security and address that problem. What about a guaranteed annual income, or greater workplace pension coverage or having a living wage?" 

Johnston said the action items the province outlines are far too general and don't contain many specifics on how the provincial government will actually act on them.

Eight government departments have been tasked with delivering on the 50 action items between now and 2020.