Thank you, Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
I'm going to focus my comments and questions on outcomes, practical ways of meeting the needs. Our last speaker was the director general of health promotion. I'll summarize what I think I heard: You collect data and work with partners and stakeholders to promote possible solutions and prevent falls. It's data collection and promotion. Thank you for that work. It's important.
I'm going to share a little story. I was speaking at the Langley senior resources centre about how we can help seniors. How do we prepare for a national seniors strategy to provide for the practical needs? A woman in the audience said, “What do people do if their roof is leaking and they can't get any help to repair the roof?” I said, “Is that you?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Let's talk after.” We did talk, and then we spent the following year trying to get federal funding to help this woman have her leaky roof repaired. She couldn't afford to do it herself, and the roof had already been leaking for three years. The walls were expanding, swelling, which indicated there was mould, rot, or whatnot in her walls. That had to be fixed.
After a year of trying to find some realistic, practical way of having her roof fixed, I just took care of her myself, along with the fire department. I provided the funding for the materials, and the fire department repaired the roof. Federally and provincially, there was no way of helping this person. If this person had been left unhelped, she and her partner would have been out of that home—a senior on a disability benefit who couldn't get any help. You can sense my frustration, after a year of no practical help.
How do we prevent seniors from falling? If they do fall, now they're a huge expense, and very likely they may end up in bed with pneumonia and passing away. That happens often. If somebody has a stroke or a fall, they need a ramp built. If they don't have the money, who is going to pay for the ramp? Who is going to pay for the railings inside their home?
We heard from Veterans Affairs. There is a person in case management who will make sure that the veteran's needs are being met. My father was a veteran of the Second World War, incredibly well cared for, and it's a model of how we can take care of our aging population. How do we see that model being enacted and put into place, into action? Studies and data collection and promotion are good.
I was actually disappointed with the presentation on housing, where you said, “The committee will also be aware that budget 2017 included historic funding for housing: $11.2 billion over the next 11 years.” It sounded like it was part of the Speech from the Throne, written by the government. Funding that is being announced for what's happening over the next two years is practical money.
My question is for CMHC. I feel quite passionate about this. We need to be prepared. We need to put the money where it's going to be effectively providing the care that's needed. How do we build the railings? How do we build the ramps? How do we meet the needs of an aging population? Programs and announcements aren't doing it.
Can anybody tell me how we are going to take care of seniors, in a practical way, in the general population?