Seniors’ society’s funding chopped in half

Programs for vulnerable seniors in the Tri-Cities, including home visitation and telephone reassurance, may have to be reduced or cut because of a lack of funding. - THINKSTOCK
Programs for vulnerable seniors in the Tri-Cities, including home visitation and telephone reassurance, may have to be reduced or cut because of a lack of funding.
— image credit: THINKSTOCK

A program that provides information and support to isolated seniors in the Tri-Cities will lose more than half of its funding at the end of June and is scrambling to find ways to continue to operate.

The United Way will not be renewing its three-year grant to Port Coquitlam-based Community Volunteer Services for Seniors, putting in jeopardy CVSS’ home visitation, telephone reassurance, grocery shopping and information and referral services for 174 seniors, says the president of the Wilson Centre Advisory Association.

And while Bruce Hansen doesn’t want to raise panic, he is concerned about the program’s future if other sources of funding can’t be obtained.

“I don’t know what I’m going to tell all those 170 clients when the money runs out,” he said. “They are all isolated seniors.”

This is not the first time the program has struggled. In 2009, Fraser Health withdrew its funding, citing a shortage of cash; corporate and community grants eventually enabled CVSS to continue to offer services.

In 2011, the United Way provided a three-year grant of about $49,500 per annum but, Deb Bryant, the director of community impact and investment, says the United Way can no longer afford to offer these grants in its seniors’ portfolio because its funding has also dropped.


“The reason we decided is that we don’t have the charitable donations to support those grants,” Bryant said, citing a million-dollar drop in revenue during last year’s fundraising drive as one of the issues.

But Hansen takes issue with the United Way’s decision to eliminate some of its seniors’ program funding, noting that it received $20 million from the province to provide non-medical programs for seniors in a program called Better at Home.

“We were under the impression we would garner a portion of that fund to expand and grow our program,” Hansen said, noting that the funding cuts will also reduce volunteer opportunities for people.

United Way’s Bryant said that while Better at Home is for seniors’ support, program funding comes directly from the province for specific services. “It’s not the same work as some of our other grants we were able to support,” she said, adding, “We would prefer to be able to continue to service all this work if our charitable donations were maintaining or growing.”

Locally, Share Family and Community Services has the contract to provide Better at Home services, which include light housekeeping, grocery shopping and transportation services on a sliding scale, but executive director Martin Wyant said there’s not enough flexibility in the contract to provide funds to CVSS, although he’s open to talking about options.

“Is there an opportunity to come together? It needs to fit within our existing resources,” Wyant said, noting that non-profit organizations are increasingly being asked to do more with less.


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