Advocacy group launching Kootenay chapter

National organization advocating for issues that affect an aging population to open Kootenay chapter.

An organization advocating for all matters relating to an aging society is opening up a chapter in the Kootenay region.

CARP—the Canadian Association of Retired Persons—is a nation, non-partisan, non-profit organization that promotes social change to bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from age discrimination.

The launch of the new chapter, which aims to cover the East and West Kootenay, will launch at the College of the Rockies on Monday, May 4, 2015, in Room 205.

There will be a guest speaker who will talk about travel tips and give advice on booking trips on a variety of budgets.

There are 10 chapters of CARP in B.C., located mostly in the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, along with 3 in Alberta, but nothing in the Southeast Interior, according to Karen Bailey-Romanko, who is involved in setting up a steering committee for the new Kootenay chapter.

“The major thing is we want to get the advocacy for a voice for the rural west to Ottawa,” Bailey-Romanko said. “”The organization, as a whole, is very eastern-centred and we wanted to see how we could make sure the West’s voice got heard.”

CARP, which has roughly a 300,000-membership across Canada, believes an ageing population is a societal challenge and not just a concur for people once they hit a certain age or life stage.

Nationally, CARP focuses on issues such as pension reform, health care, importance of caregivers, rights of older workers, eliminating elder abuse, and creating age friendly communities.

Members are also entitled to benefits that include insurance, travel and accommodation, car rentals, optical services and hearing devices and home care services.

While the chapter launch is upcoming, Bailey-Romanko and other organizers are still in the process of forming a board.

With the formation of the chapter in the Kootenay region, Bailey-Romanko is emphasizing that CARP isn’t trying to step on the toes of other organizations who offer programs to senior and retired citizens.

“We’re not here to replace any one of them. In fact, partly why it took us a year is because it took us over a year to add up all the seniors organizations in just Cranbrook,” she said. “We had over 15.”

The intent, is to link and share information between each different group, she added.

For more information, contact Bailey-Romanko at 250-426-5021.