Seniors: A vital part of our community

“Nova Scotia has one of the oldest aging populations in Canada. By 2030, there will be close to 260,000 Nova Scotians aged 65 or older in a population of less than a million people.” (Nova Scotia Department of Seniors, 2017) In only 13 years seniors will possibly equal 26 per cent of Nova Scotia’s citizens.

I believe that the seniors residing within our communities are often viewed as unimportant constituents who only take from services. That misconception is a huge pile of bull dung. Seniors are vital contributors throughout all of our communities.

Money tends to get our attention, therefore let’s consider the dollars spent, both directly and indirectly, within our regions because of our senior citizens.

Investments are made and businesses are maintained as a result of our seniors. Many of our residents are employed via servicing the wants and/or needs of seniors. Seniors partake in multitude purchases: food, gasoline, home heating services, construction projects, property maintenance, to indicate but a few.

Pensions are brought into our regions via seniors. Those consistent incomes are put back into the communities via the many financial contributions from the senior segment of our society. Regions benefit from the contributions of seniors, be it via their vehicle ownerships, banking requirements, restaurant visitations, worshiping needs, funeral services, recreational undertakings, goods transportation, and participation in community activities.

We can hope that big business will someday establish a presence locally thereby attracting new community members but the legal reality is that employees can live wherever they wish. As long as employees perform the requirements of their job descriptions, there is no guarantee that they will not commute to work but live elsewhere.

Let us also consider the employment already existing because we are fortunate to have residents within the 65 years-plus demographic reality.

In the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, my municipality of residence, we are fortunate to have the Milford Haven Home for Special Care and the Canso Seaside Manor with a combined full and part-time staff of 110 employees. Within the Guysborough Memorial and the Canso Memorial Hospitals, there are 72 employees in their combined full-time and part-time staffs. Most of the holders of those 182 jobs live in and spend much of their incomes throughout their communities of employments therefore all contribute back into their respective regions.

Seniors also impact upon our municipalities’ governance and public works, provincial transportation departments, police services, health care providers, etc., all of which depend on the community’s population’s numbers to justify their operational and employee budgets.

As I observe fellow seniors, I am aware of those who are moving from my community to live elsewhere so as to have the amenities that my region is not providing to the satisfaction of those departing, such as affordable housing, public transportation, home care, socialization opportunities, and recreational prospects.

A fact about which we will agree, especially politicians, is that communities do need to attract young families. However, we must not overlook our existing population’s reality that we have many seniors already residing among us who have incomes to spend. What is actively being done to stabilize that segment of our demographics? Let’s not be passing the buck by stating that seniors’ needs are some other department’s responsibility. Such deflection of responsibility is another load of bull dung.

When I do meals on wheels deliveries and observe some of the conditions and limited spaces within a seniors’ apartments complex, I don’t care which government department is in charge of that dwelling. Those residents have every right to receive all necessary improvements to their place of residence.

In our regions, we – and all politicians – should be speaking up and putting forth more efforts to get things done to improve requirements for the senior constituents. Please, no more bunk that the needs such as seniors’ housing, public transportation or reliable Internet services are someone else’s responsibility.

Such passing of the buck will only encourage more residents to seek opportunities to vacate their regions and relocate to appreciative, supportive municipalities – and with them they will take all they could have contributed to their current communities.

Ray Bates