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Stats show Kaslo deserves more long-term care beds

The census data shows that Kaslo’s demographics are aging fast and growing in number
Kaslo council has written to MLA Brittny Anderson asking for her assistance in getting more long term beds. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,The Valley Voice

People lobbying for more long-term care beds in Kaslo have written to their local MLA to say recent data released by Statistics Canada supports their case.

Kaslo’s Health Select Committee and Village Council have written to MLA Brittny Anderson asking for her assistance to get the issue out of limbo.

“Recently released 2021 census data … adds compelling weight to our concerns that Kaslo and Area D are underserved with respect to our local (close to home) residential care facility,” states a June 14 letter signed by Kaslo Mayor Suzan Hewat. “We believe that this deserves your attention and we ask that you encourage Minister Dix and Interior Health Authority to work with us to fill this serious and growing gap in services.”

The census data shows that Kaslo’s demographics are aging fast and growing in number. From the 2016 census to the 2021 count, the number of residents over 65 in Kaslo and Area D rose from 660 people to 835. Seniors now constitute 33.3 per cent of the local population (up 4.7 per cent since 2016). That’s compared to Nelson’s 20.6 per cent of the local population being over 65 (a 1.9 per cent increase from the earlier census).

“The percentage increase in the population of seniors (age 65+) was greater in Kaslo than in any other municipal unit in your riding!” Hewat wrote.

The letter concludes by asking Anderson for help with positioning Kaslo to make the case for more long-term care beds within the existing system.

“What evidence is required to confirm the need? What planning can be completed in advance?” Hewat asks. “Who are the appropriate contacts at the Ministry of Health or Interior Health Authority that can work with us to address these issues?”

The committee concludes the letter by inviting the MLA to meet with them to explore the project further.

“We look forward to your response and hope we can work together to ensure access to care for the rapidly growing population of local seniors,” she concludes.

Missing letter

But Hewat warned at the July 26 meeting of council that the letter was the beginning of a process that would likely take years. She said that came clear to her when she attended an announcement for 75 new long-term care beds for Nelson in July.

“Nothing happens quickly,” she said, responding to a councillor’s question. “Hearing from [Nelson] Mayor Dooley, they started back in the 1990s trying to get their beds. So it was not a quick process, to get significant funding.”

And almost to emphasize the point, it turned out Anderson never saw the June 14 letter they were hoping would start the process.

“I asked her about it, if she had received our letter from council… and she hadn’t received it,” Hewat told council. “We’re hoping to open discussions with her. It will have to go political first. Because if we don’t get the money, it’s not going to happen.”

She said the letter was re-sent and they are waiting for a reply.