Archives for October 2012

Jackie Clark, Horse Hill Berry Farm on Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture: Janelle Herbert of Riverbend Gardens, Edmonton

Senior Care

Next Senior’s Team Meeting is January 24th at 10:30am at St. Theresa’s Catholic Parish 7508-29 Ave

The Senior’s Team is collecting information from seniors about the services they need or they think they will need as they age, services which will help them to stay at home for as long as possible. We have hosted 3 house meetings so far.
 
Early results show that it is soft, domestic services they predict they will need in order to stay in their home. People are generally satisfied with the medical services available but the other services like housekeeping, snow shoveling, simple house maintenance, personal care, are the ones that are either not available or are too expensive.

Although most of the participants were over 65, some of the people who were not seniors had some valuable input for us. Many of them were caregivers of parents and other elderly family members.

We would like to have more house meetings in our GEA institutions. To that end we will be calling the delegates or institutional leaders to offer them the opportunity to host a house meeting and be part of this project. Please speak to Elaine if you are interested in finding out more about hosting a meeting.

Representatives of the Team met this week with Fred Horne, the Minister of Health. We asked him these questions:

  • What is your government’s vision for helping seniors to remain in their own homes for as long as possible?
  • What is happening within the Health Department and/or between departments to make this happen?
  • How can the GEA Seniors Team assist the process?

The Minister spoke of initiatives in his department:

  • the Seniors Property Tax Deferral to be implemented next year
  • consideration of a refundable Seniors Wellness Tax Credit
  • moving access to Home Care into the community via the new 140 Family Care Clinics and the current Primary Care Networks. Each of them will have an Advisory Committee of community members.
  • Model being set up for care and support of the homeless after they are housed could be extended to care for seniors staying in own homes.

Our conversation included possible other options for service delivery via churches, seniors’ centres, other social enterprises not yet in existence!

The Senior’s Team raised these issues which need to be addressed by government:

  • inadequate training of home support staff
  • low wages for support staff even though the agency charges are out of reach for many seniors
  • absence of standards of care

Significantly, Minister Horne said the government has moved from consultations which are event-based to individual MLAs consulting within their constituencies. Get ready to meet with your MLA to tell him what you want.

The Seniors Team is without a co-chair and is in danger of disappearing should no one step forward to take that position. I am currently a co-chair without a “co”. There were 18 people at our team meeting this week. Three of them were observers three of them were members we co-opted to come to meet the Minister of Health.

Two asks happened at the Strategy Meeting:

1. Consider hosting a house meeting to gather information about services needed by seniors at home as they age.

2. Volunteer as the co-chair of the Seniors Team

To host a house meeting or volunteer as a co-chair contact Elaine at lainey@telus.net.

Senior’s Care Focus on Home Care
After 35 months and 26 + meetings the Seniors Team received wholehearted support for the project they presented to both the Institutional Leaders Caucus and the Strategy Team on February 23 at the Catholic Archdiocese conference centre.The plan includes house meetings in member institutions to answer the question, “What home care services are essential to help seniors remain in their homes for as long as possible?”
Armed with this background information, a campaign will be developed. Allies will be recruited among seniors’ advocacy and social organizations and the people and politicians holding the power in this area of health services will be identified. People in our member institutions will be asked, for example, to:
  • write and/or call their MLA and the premier
  • write and/or call the Minister of Health and the director of Alberta Health Services
  • attend rallies or demonstrations
  • participate in a small GEA group meeting with politicians and/or the leadership in Alberta Health Services
The Seniors Team will provide scripts and training for people to raise their comfort level and skill in carrying out these vital activities.The Team considers this is a winnable situation and we are grateful for and excited by the support we received at the Institutional Leaders Caucus and the Strategy Team meeting.

There is a critical staff shortage in long term care facilities

On April 12th, 2010- GEA’s Senior’s Care Team brought a new voice to the legislature as they began a series of small team meetings with MLA’s regarding improving conditions for seniors in Alberta, particularly in terms of Long Term Care Funding.

Thanks to the meeting with Dr. Sherman GEA will now be meeting with other ministries and health officials related to important Senior’s issues.

GEA’s Senior’s Team has begun researching and organizing around the following components of Senior’s Care:

– Increased Funding to Continued Care Facilities and ensuring the proceeds from the sale of Alberta Savings Bonds actually goes toward Continuing Care.

– Changes to the Alberta Building Code to allow for more senior’s friendly housing.

– Increase funding for training of continuing care workers.

– Developing community owned not for profit pilot seniors housing and care projects.

Mark Winne on Food

Local Foods Update ~ October 2012

Since 2008, the Local Foods Team has been working on the issue of strengthening our local food system and economy. In 2010, the City of Edmonton passed progressive policy (the Municipal Development Plan or MDP) which stated:

before any of the remaining land in the City’s boundaries that is currently zoned agricultural could be rezoned two key strategies would have to be developed: a City Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy (CWFAS) and a Growth Coordination strategy (GCS). They also approved a vision for Edmonton as part of the MDP : “Edmonton has a resilient food and agriculture system that contributes to the local economy and the overall cultural, financial, social and environmental sustainability of the city”. It was the first time in Edmonton’s history that local food and food security were included as part of the planning parameters of the city. This policy happened only because citizens of Edmonton organized themselves with the support of GEA’s member institutions and turned out over 500 citizens three times to City Hall during the two year process. We moved from being food consumers to food citizens…actively engaged in shaping food policy for our city and region.

 

Since 2010, we have continued to actively engage citizens in the ongoing discussion as to their concerns and imaginations about the future of food and the preservation of agricultural land in Northeast Edmonton. As part of our citizen engagement, we hosted Local Food Training in June. As well, several GEA leaders have participated in both the Advisory Committee for the Horse Hill (Northeast Edmonton) Area Structure Plan (hosted by Waltons, Cameron Development and other key landowners in NE Edmonton) and the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee (hosted by the City of Edmonton). Debbie Hubbard has been the GEA representative on the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee since its formation in October 2011. In September 2012, we hosted a workshop facilitated by Miistakis Institute and invited a variety of stakeholders to learn about tools and mechanisms for conserving agricultural land. (land trusts, conservation easements and transfer of development credits) We were very fortunate to receive a $30,000 grant from Alberta EcoTrust that has supported our work on this issue.

 

However, there are many competing interests and views in the City about what should happen to the remaining land zoned agricultural in the City.  Pressure is mounting to rezone it and move quickly into development. GEA believes that a win-win solution to those competing interests is possible but that it will take leadership from the City and time to work through a process. All landowners deserve fair compensation for their land. However, through the Municipal Government Act, the City has been given the responsibility to make decisions that protect the long-term interests of all citizens and not the short-term interests of people wanting to make windfall profits. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/travel/OpEd+fork+city+path+future+pave+save+prime+northeast/7287309/story.html

 

Just as with our earlier action with the Municipal Development Plan, we need folks to flex their citizenship muscle. Plan to come to City Hall Council Chambers on October 26.  There will be a public hearing for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. Come for the entire day or for whatever part of the day you can. This will be the only Public Hearing that citizens can have a say in the content of the Strategy. It will be held before the Executive Committee (Mayor Mandel and Councillors Sloan, Leibovici, Diotte and Krushell). They will decide whether to send the Strategy back for more work or on to the full City Council for a decision. We know that a citizen presence at City Hall does and can make a difference.


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