On November 17, the Richmond County Seniors Citizens Council held its sixth annual meet and greet at St. Louis Hall in Louisdale, which was attended by 11 seniors groups from across the county.

LOUISDALE: The umbrella group representing seniors groups in Richmond County is very busy these days.

Wilfred Marchand, secretary/treasurer with the Richmond County Senior Citizens Council, explained the council is made up of 11 individual Richmond County seniors groups and works under the Federation of Nova Scotia Seniors and Pensioners.

“We do everything for seniors,” Marchand stated. “We’re fighting for the seniors every day.”

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Marchand said the council is well respected within the federation. As an example, the local group was able to have three resolutions adopted at last year’s provincial convention.

“It’s nice to hear that when you go to these conventions, where Richmond County stands,” Marchand said.

Two years ago, the council circulated a petition on Isle Madame and in Louisdale protesting emergency room closures. Currently, the council is organizing demonstrations for Strait-Richmond Hospital in Evanston and St. Ann Community and Nursing Care Centre in Arichat to protest the physician shortage.

The council is also involved in lobbying government and was successful in obtaining a palliative care funding commitment from the Municipality of the County of Richmond.

“We’re the only club in Nova Scotia that the municipality helps,” Marchand said. “They give us a lot of behind-the-scenes help.”

Along with a federal tax proposal that could hurt physicians in private practice, Marchand said one the most pressing issues for the council is the pending retirement of Dr. James Collins.

“If we don’t do something to help our local hospitals, we are going to lose them,” Marchand said. “Dr. Collins has to be praised for the amount of work he puts in. If he retires, we’re losing out.”

In the meantime, Cape Breton-Richmond MLA Alana Paon is trying to set up a meeting between the council and Minister of Health and Wellness, Randy Delorey to discuss the physician shortage, palliative care funding and the absence of a palliative care doctor, as well as seniors housing.

“Our local MLA, Alana, is giving us a big boost, a very big boost,” Marchand said of the Progressive Conservative MLA who attended the November 17 event in Louisdale.

As for other plans, Marchand said they are trying to get the Evergreen Seniors Club in Port Hawkesbury to join the council.

George Kehoe, chair of the Rocky Bay Irish Club’s seniors committee, said being part of the council provided his group with new ideas for different activities, like a paint night.

“What I like about it is that really you go there and you paint something for the night and you’re totally relaxed,” Kehoe explained. “It’s a non-competitive environment.

“It’s amazing to see the creativity in some people.”

Kehoe added praise for the council’s ability to bring people together and improve the lives of seniors.

“It’s important because, number one, you learn from one another and you find out something that one club does that your club would like,” the retired teacher noted.

“There’s plenty of seniors that would be perfectly content to sit at home and vegetate, and an organization like this gets you out and forces you to socialize, which is really good in the long run for a person.”