Sunday, 17 August 2014

Seniors Advocacy

Keep wondering what happened to the Seniors lobby in Canadian or provincial politics. Not too many years ago the more 'older' cohort exerted a lot of influence in Ottawa on CPP, medicare, seniors rights and other legislation concerning retirees. Now it seems they are a group marginalized, neglected and ignored. As of 2011 over 14% of the population was in the 65 and over group, a contingent that should have a big say in legislation and how the country is governed.

CARP was one of the organizations that used to be in the news fairly often presenting the seniors viewpoint, continually reminding all three federal parties - include the BQ if you wish - that they were a formidable voting block at election time. For a short time I was a CARP member, paid my dues and got my 50+ magazine in the mail. Most of the insurance and travel savings etc. seemed appropriate for Ontario but not much help for BC. However, some of the articles were interesting and supporting the advocacy was perhaps worthwhile.

A lot changed once Moses Znaimer bought the magazine in 2010 and became the de facto head of CARP. Since that takeover the lobbying appears to have fallen silent except when it is used to support the ZoomerMedia empire. Case in point was the ongoing fight  to convince the CRTC to allow Vision TV to remain as part of the basic cable system rather than becoming an optional extra cost channel. According to their submission 65% of seniors wanted the station to remain as a basic channel and up to 80% of the general public were clamouring for no change to the present set up.  All this lobbying was led by CARP using funds which the membership assumed were to be used for over 45 advocacy issues, not for keeping Vision TV on the gravy train paid for by the general public whether they wanted the channel or not. Although the ruling went against Vision TV, during the subsequent licence renewal the CRTC basically caved to the desires of ZoomerMedia and would not force the channel off the basic tier, meaning a lot more money in the corporate coffers. It may be since Moses has attained the ripe old age of 72, he feels CARP has advocated for at least one senior and has fulfilled its mandate.

Rather naive for the rest of us to assume millionaires or corporate heads would be busy watching out for our interests. So, we'll sit and silently fume as governments raise the retirement age, claw back benefits, ignore our individual questions and eventually transfer control of public pensions to the private sector.Or now may be the time to support grass root organizations to put forth the views and concerns of older Canadians. Failing that we may have to rely on the raging grannies to advocate for all of us.

Photo by Flickr user Grant Neufeld used under Creative Common

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