Government Support for Seniors: Question Period – 4 May 2017
Here is the video and transcript of oral questions today recorded in the language it was originally spoken.
Mr. Coon: Yesterday, the government of Canada released the census numbers identifying New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia as provinces with the largest population of seniors, at just close to
20%. Seniors make a tremendous contribution to our society and will continue to do so.
Sometimes it just requires us to ask them.
In January, the Premier’s Council on Aging tabled a report identifying goals and actions that the
government could set to ensure that our province supports New Brunswick’s seniors in their
elder years when they require that. Yesterday’s census report reinforces the urgency with which
we need to implement these recommendations. Can the Premier tell us when he expects to
implement the recommendations from the Council on Aging?
Hon. Mrs. Harris: The latest StatsCan data does not surprise the provincial government, as we
have been preparing for these increases in seniors for a long time. I would just like to say that it
was this government and this Premier that recognized that this was happening and named a
seniors minister for this important file. As well, it was this Premier who created the Council on
Aging, which has done some very important work. Staff members in my department are
currently preparing the implementation plan, which will be unveiled very shortly. We are
certainly preparing to be able to move forward with this framework. This is going to be the guide
that is going to allow us to make sure that we are meeting the needs of seniors right here in New
Mr. Coon: I think it is important to get specific. One of the key recommendations of the Council
on Aging was for the government to establish a dementia strategy. Such a strategy would include
a plan with respect to community-based dementia care, increased dementia training for those in
the health and home care sectors, the creation of a mobile crisis unit to support those living in the
community with dementia and to support their families, and to align with the national dementia
strategy. There is some urgency to get this enacted, for sure. The question is this: Will the
Premier tell this House when New Brunswickers can expect to see a dementia strategy fully
implemented and in place?
Mrs. Harris: The Council on Aging presented its Aging Strategy to the provincial government
in January. This multiyear strategy positions the province to be a leader in aging care. The
actions in the strategy, in both the long and the short term, address key areas that will improve
care in the aging sector and foster relationships between governments, community groups, and
We certainly understand that dementia is a very important piece. We are waiting to see when we
are going to implement those decisions, those suggestions that were made by the Council on
Aging. We are certainly looking forward to getting to work to put some of the great ideas into
place and continuing to make sure that we are having great discussions and collaborations with
many departments across the government to ensure that we have the best quality of life for our
seniors here in New Brunswick.
Mr. Coon: Seniors certainly want to see action. Another key recommendation of the Council on
Aging was to refurbish municipal infrastructure and services so that, in fact, their communities
are age-friendly, which, in many cases, they are not. The point is to “enable the full participation
of older adults in local economic, social, civil and cultural life”, as the Council on Aging said.
To achieve this will, in fact, require financial assistance from the provincial government to
ensure that the municipalities can afford to upgrade their infrastructure and services to actually
Will the Premier commit to targeting infrastructure funding specifically for municipalities so that
they are able to make existing infrastructure and services actually age-friendly?
Hon. Mr. Gallant: We appreciate the questions coming from the leader of the third party. We
just want to say a few things. Age-friendly communities are an important part of the strategy.
We take very seriously the fact that there are demographic challenges facing New Brunswick.
We also recognize that having more seniors is an opportunity in many ways as well. We are
working very hard to ensure that seniors will be able to retire with dignity in the province, that
they will be able to stay in their homes as long as possible, and that they can contribute as long
as possible to the economy of our province.
I do just want to address the preamble of the questions. It had to do with an aging demographic. I
want to assure New Brunswickers that we are working very hard to buck the trend as best as we
possibly can. We are investing to strategically grow the economy and to create jobs. We are
investing in education. Through the Family Plan, we want to make sure that our families and
communities are as healthy as possible. So, yes, we will ensure that seniors get the support they
need, but we will also try to buck the population growth . . .
Mr. Speaker: Time, Premier.