Seniors’ advocacy ball rolling after big turnout

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Seniors are probably not accustomed to thinking about the shortage of services in terms of human rights. But that is how the matter is being framed and after a meeting last week, several Slave Lake seniors are on board with it.

Despite short notice, over 42 people attended at the Friendship Centre on July 31. Leading the meeting were four members of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights in Edmonton.

The purpose of the meeting was to fill out Human Rights Complaint forms about the health care situation and other concerns.

Ten people completed forms. A further 40 complaints forms were taken home by people.

The coalition intends to continue collecting and strengthening applications over the next few weeks, says Renée Vaugeois, coalition member and executive director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

People interested in filing a claim can email for a form and help.

“The Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act) protects people from discrimination in Alberta under specific protected areas and grounds,” says the Human Rights Commission website

Protected grounds are things like age, family status, gender, disability or race, says Vaugeois.

The advocates provided an opening paragraph based on the concerns raised at the last meeting. It highlighted various protected grounds including age, family status, and disability. After it was read out, a few additions were made.

Multiple protected grounds can go into a claim. A hypothetical example is a low income senior who can’t drive has a medical appointment in Edmonton, but her family isn’t close by. Age, income and family status mean she can’t make it to Edmonton.

“The Commission follows defined processes and steps to ensure that both parties are treated in a fair, respectful and professional manner,” says the commission website. “This may include working with both parties to resolve the complaint through conciliation or conducting an investigation of the complaint.”

The complaint process has four steps. The first is filing a written complaint. This must be done within a year of the problem being reported.

Then then commission accept or rejects the complaint.

If it is accepted, the organization or person the complaint is against has the opportunity to respond. The complainant is given the response.

There are four options after the complainant reads the response.

The complainant can chose to withdraw the complaint.

The commission can do ‘conciliation’ a voluntary resolution by both parties.

Third, the commission might investigate.

Finally, the commission might the refer the complainant to the Director of the Commission for a director’s review or a tribunal.

Four advocates from Edmonton at last week’s meeting in Slave Lake. Finn St. Dennis, Keri McEachem, Renée Vaugeois and Mark Cherrington.

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