Editor, The Times:
Re: “New wheelchair fees for care home seniors slammed,” South Delta Leader, June 21, 2013.
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to statements Vicki Huntington (independent MLA for South Delta) has made about wheelchair maintenance fees.
Ms. Huntington states health authorities have “no idea of actual costs” and maintenance fees have been “simply pulled out of the air.” Comments like these only serve to promote anxiety amongst our senior population and those who care for them.
Costs to maintain wheelchairs and other equipment can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors including the type of equipment and how much they are used.
Residential care clients who need wheelchairs spend most of their waking hours in those chairs and, the money raised from the monthly fee covers only a portion of the actual cost of maintaining, repairing and replacing aging wheelchairs.
Ms. Huntington also failed to make it clear that no vulnerable senior citizen will be denied a wheelchair if they cannot afford the maintenance fee. Health authorities have hardship provisions in place for any client who is unable to purchase or rent wheelchairs, depending on their income status.
As I have mentioned before, the public health care system covers the cost of medical care in publicly-subsidized residential care homes, and those who can afford to cover the cost of their personal equipment, do so.
Our government will continue to make caring for those who cared for us a high priority, and that includes building a sustainable health-care system for all generations.
Minister of Health
BC Liberal MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson