The Seniors Services Society is getting help buying a new set of wheels with help from the provincial government.
The province is providing approximately $1.23 million through regional health authorities to 13 community for projects that improve transportation services for B.C. seniors. The New West-based Seniors Services Society received $40,000 to contribute toward the purchase of a new bus, which costs $115,000.
“Seniors Services Society is extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health for its generous contribution to our new bus, so we may continue to provide vulnerable and isolated seniors with opportunities to socialize with their peers, contributing to healthy and positive aging,” said Nipa Bhalla, the society’s resources development officer.
Bhalla said the society is currently reviewing the quotes and specifications to be sure it gets the best possible vehicle to meet its needs.
“The 16-person, wheelchair lift-equipped bus will safely transport seniors to and from social outings, farmers’ markets, Quest foods, grocery stores, dining clubs and cultural performances,” she said. “Each trip has a bus host – typically a senior volunteer – to ensure a great and safe experience.”
According to Bhalla, the society applied for several grants to help it purchase a new bus.
"Lack of access to transportation can increase social isolation, undermine an individual's ability to complete daily activities ranging from grocery shopping, health appointments and engaging in community programs that improve mental and physical well-being. That's why we are taking steps to resolve this barrier," B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a press release. "This announcement is the first of several steps to support and enhance the work non-profit organizations do to help seniors live better, healthier lives in community."
According to the press release, the Ministry of Health is supporting improved transportation for seniors to help them maintain meaningful social connections and independence in their local communities. The funding will allow community groups to purchase 12 buses and vans and to make other improvements to existing transportation services to help seniors age in place, stay physically active and socially engaged.
"Seniors are the hearts of our communities and they deserve to get the support they need to live the healthiest lives possible," said Anne Kang, parliamentary secretary for seniors and multiculturalism. "By increasing transportation options within the community, seniors will better be able to live independent lives and stay physically and socially active."
According to the province, 19 per cent of British Columbia’s population is over the age of 65, and that’s expected to rise to 25 per cent in the next 15 years.
The Seniors Services Society offers a variety of housing services and support services to seniors, such as Meals on Wheels, transportation to medical appointments, support calls, grocery shopping, tax clinics and dining programs.