New provincial funding aimed at helping seniors escape abuse will meet a need for increased capacity in rural communities, says Jason Nixon, Sundre-area MLA and minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.
Of the $3.3 million in new funding announced Monday, $2.2 million will go towards the establishment of a new safe spaces program for seniors experiencing elder abuse in rural Alberta and in Indigenous communities.
The program will utilize vacant lodge spaces to expand shelter capacity and will “ensure there are safe, accessible places for them to go,” Nixon said during a press conference Monday.
Asked by the Albertan why most of the new funding is going to rural communities, Nixon said, “It’s an area where certainly we see the solutions or safe spaces underrepresented in rural Alberta.
“One of the challenges we see is rural Alberta is vast and obviously we don’t need the same level of facility size (as in cities), but we do still need to help individuals who find themselves in those circumstances.
“That’s why you see the bulk of the funding going to rural and Indigenous communities because what we’ve learned is it’s the area where we can have the biggest impact and the area where probably us as a province are the furthest behind.”
In partnership with the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council, the new grant funding is being made available to eligible communities with the call for proposals beginning in January.
The additional $1.1 million will go to the Sage Seniors Safe House to expand senior shelter spaces in Edmonton and surrounding area.
That investment will increase the capacity of the Safe House program and improve access for older adults requiring additional care while seeking shelter, he said.
“Sadly, seniors experience a tremendous amount of family violence inside our province, something that is often maybe forgotten,” said Nixon. “The fact is that in our province about one in 10 of our seniors will experience some form of elder abuse, whether that is physical, emotional, financial or sexual in nature.
“Elder abuse is a deeply concerning issue that affects countless seniors in our province.”
Karen McDonald, executive director with Sage Seniors Association said the new funding is welcome.
“Increased access to shelter and safe spaces for older adults experiencing elder abuse is a critical step towards ensuring that all Albertans can live free from abuse,” said McDonald. “Sage values the ongoing collaboration between the government of Alberta and community organizations in advancing the elder abuse prevention strategy.”