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WHEREAS in November 2010 the Government of Alberta released its ‘Aging Population Policy Framework’ document designed to foster a coordinated and aligned approach, across the Government of Alberta ministries in collaboration with other stakeholders, in developing policies, programs and services that meet the changing needs of Alberta’s aging population; and
WHEREAS the Aging Population Policy Framework document recognizes and acknowledges the importance of transportation and mobility for our aging population and that the ability to reach ones destination is important in preserving the well-being, quality of life, independence and prevention of isolation; and
WHEREAS affordable and accessible transportation options should be in place for those individuals that are no longer capable of driving their own vehicles; and
WHEREAS in rural and remote areas of the Province of Alberta, public transit systems are limited and gaps in transportation services exist; and
WHEREAS our aging population in rural and remote areas of the Province of Alberta often have to travel to larger centres for medical services and other appointments or, to access basic needs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC urge the Government of Alberta to move forward with its policy direction, as set out in the November 2010 ‘Aging Population Policy Framework’ document and implement solutions to provide safe, affordable, appropriate and accessible transportation options to address the mobility and transportation challenges of our aging population, specifically those residing in rural and remote areas in the Province of Alberta.
In November 2010 the Government of Alberta released its “Aging Population Policy Framework” document in which it recognized that Alberta’s population was steadily increasing in age, attributing this fact in part to longer life expectancies and the advancing age of the “baby boomer” generation. This Aging Population Policy Framework document also recognized that the population age increase would produce profound economic and social implications leading to opportunities and challenges that would require the involvement of a variety of stakeholders and partners – health, finance, transportation, housing, various levels and departments of government, communities, families, private and non-profit sectors, each with roles and responsibilities to respond to the needs of the aging population.
The Aging Population Policy Framework document identifies the Government of Alberta’s role and key policy directions and desired objectives in these areas. With regard to transportation, the Government recognizes the ability to reach ones destination, as important in maintaining the well-being, quality of life and independence. Acknowledgement is also placed on the importance of affordable and accessible transportation options to be in place for those individuals that are no longer capable of driving their own vehicles. It also recognized that in rural areas of the province, public transit systems are limited and gaps in transportation services exist. Seniors in rural and remote communities often have to travel to larger urban centres for medical services, other appointments or to access basic needs making inter-municipal transportation services a key concern. An outcome identified in the transportation and mobility of our aging population is that Albertans will have access to safe, affordable, appropriate and accessible transportation options during their senior years.
Policy directives to reach this outcome include:
1. Support the development of affordable, accessible and appropriate transportation options for seniors who are unable or do not wish to drive
a. Work with municipal governments and other community partners to identify and address changing transportation needs of seniors in their communities, especially in rural and remote communities
b. Examine ways of providing financially accessible transportation options for those seniors most in need
c. Facilitate and encourage age-friendly municipal and community infrastructure that helps seniors retain their mobility.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions pertaining to this issue.
As you are aware, Alberta Seniors leads the implementation of the Alberta government’s Aging Population Policy Framework. A key strategic policy direction of the Framework is to support the ability of Albertans who are 65 and older to continue driving safely and support the development of alternative modes of transportation. This includes working with community members to develop research and best practices that can identify risk factors associated with medically at-risk drivers and supporting drivers in being able to drive as safely as possible for as long as possible.
In 2008, the ministry provided a grant to the University of Alberta to support the creation of a Medically-at-Risk Driver Centre (MARD). In 2010, MARD:
•in partnership with Alberta Transportation, released the SIMARD MD (Screen for the Identification of Cognitively Impaired Medically At-Risk Drivers). SIMARD is one tool that can be used by the medical community to assess an individual’s ability to drive safely and to support informed recommendations, which are reviewed by Alberta Transportation to determine if a person requires conditions and/or restrictions placed on their license to help them continue to drive safely;
The report and database can be accessed on MARD’s website, which is located at: http://www.mard.ualberta.ca/db/.
Moving forward, the ministry will be working with its partners in Transportation and Health and Wellness to support efforts to better educate the general public about issues related to aging and driving as well as alternative transportation options.
The ministry will continue to monitor the transportation needs of seniors and the options available to meet their needs and will work with its partners to determine how to best support alternative transportation service initiatives for seniors throughout Alberta who do not drive.
The AAMDC accepts this response in principle. While no formal policy has been put in place, the response notes the Medically-at-Risk Driver Centre (MARD) and their report on the availability of alternate transportation services for seniors across regional, urban and rural settings. Further the MARD initiative has launched a searchable database of organizations that provide alternative transportation. These are positive steps and the AAMDC will continue to follow senior initiatives in light of the intent of this resolution.