Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to talk about a very important issue to many of my constituents. A person does not have to be a senior to appreciate what we are debating this afternoon.
We have recognized very clearly in many debates that senior abuse is very real. It happens every day in all our communities. There is a responsibility for legislators and organizations, whether they are non-profits, stakeholders or individuals, to play an educational, supportive and advocacy role in this.
I will take this opportunity to share some of the concerns I have. As a government, we have done some fairly significant things in recent years which will make a difference.
Before I mention specific examples of that, I want to acknowledge Age and Opportunity, an organization in the province of Manitoba. It has been serving seniors for decades. Organizations like this do very fine work. The new horizons program has been incorporated into the regular, ongoing activities of senior groups, highlighting the many different types of abuses. They call for action in many different ways, whether for governments, individuals or other stakeholders, and the note things we can do to assist in education.
The previous speaker made reference to using mailings to provide awareness and education regarding abuse. I applaud those types of mailers. On occasion, I have inserted things that I believe are important into mailers. Given the new general mailing formats, the member across the way made me think that maybe we could incorporate the types of things we should caution seniors about in a booklet. Far too often they are victims of some form of scam, and we need to do more to prevent this.
However, this is not just about the government in Ottawa. There is a responsibility for the various levels of government to work together in coming up with solutions that will have a real, tangible impact on our seniors.
I was very happy that the Prime Minister decided to establish a ministry for seniors, indicating very clearly that this is a very important issue. The Minister of Seniors, who is the first minister in this portfolio, has done an outstanding job in reaching into the many different communities within Canada. The diversity among our seniors is truly amazing. As a minister, she has reached out and listened to the issues related to seniors for whom we need to stand up. The issue of abuse is very real and tangible.
We talk of mental abuse, physical abuse and financial abuse. Those three take place on a daily basis, and it is quite sad. I have had opportunities to provide help and support to victims, which I do wherever I can. However, there are far too many victims. The ones who are often affected are seniors who still live in their homes. Individuals will approach their homes, maybe to take a look at the roof or a window, and they will knock on the door. A high pressure sales pitch is then given to them and repairs are made to their homes. Some of those repairs are very questionable. Some of the invoicing is very questionable.
Many companies in our communities have fantastic reputations. This is why it is important for us not to paint every company or industry with the same brush.
There is a great deal of economic activity between seniors and the private sector, but there will always be some individuals who have no problem taking financial advantage of seniors. Home repairs is only one example of it.
Other situations often include a child of an elderly person who will borrow or take money from that aging parent. Sadly, this type of abuse exists.
Then there is physical abuse of elders. When I think of physical abuse within society, it unfortunately often involves seniors who have literally shut themselves off from society. They very rarely leave their homes. This is hard to imagine, given the contributions to society. This is one aspect of physical abuse.
The more obvious abuse involves some form of physical force. Some seniors are picked on. It is hard to imagine, but it does take place.
For all of those reasons and more, I think today's motion will receive significant support from members on all sides of the House. We are highlighting something to which I think Canadians can relate and believe something needs to be done.
I would caution members that the solution is not as simple as the House of Commons passing a motion or a resolution or even a piece of legislation. The solution cannot be found in appointing a minister responsible for seniors. We need to do a lot more than make gestures. We need to take tangible action. We need to really work with our communities.
We need to look at first responders and mail carriers.
We often underestimate some of the fine work of our letter carriers perform. They go into our communities, where many of them have formed a relationship with the individuals to whom they deliver mail. One of the sad things about the disappearance of door-to-door delivery is the fact that they no longer will be able to provide a sense of comfort or care to those individuals.
Whether it is those civil servants, or first responders or individuals who work in hospitals, social service and home care services, they are all on the front line and they have a fairly good understanding of what is right and what is wrong. We rely on them to ensure that the amount of abuse against seniors is minimized.
It is great when the House of Commons takes action, as is often warranted. It is critically important for us to recognize that taking action needs to go far beyond just Ottawa. Stakeholders and other levels of government need to be involved. Action involves educating, protecting and being there for our seniors in a very real way.
I appreciate the motion and look forward to the ongoing debate.