During a Monday morning press conference, several local community leaders heard Senior Action Québec President Michael Udy denounce the Plante administration for having “…systematically excluded” the city’s senior Anglo population from their senior citizen consultation process.
“If the city cannot design an age-friendly city consultation process,” said Concordia Professor Kim Sawchuck, “…then how can we expect them to build an age-friendly city?”
After the Plante administration launched its initial on-line consultation process, it also mentioned that it planned to hold four separate public consultations in February. However, as the entire process, including its website, was being held in French, an immediate protest forced the administration to translate its website into English after which they added a fifth session to be held in English in the CDN-NDG Borough’s Cummings Center.
“That session is only going to be recognized as a ‘preliminary consultation’ ,” said Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand. “They’re not even going to recognize it as a formal consultation.”
Based upon what’s been done in other cities, both Udy and Sawchuck denounced the Plante administration for holding the consultations in mid-winter when many seniors are reluctant – for all of the obvious reasons – to go outside and risk an injury. As far as Udy is concerned, it’s either a “systematic exclusion” of a significant part of the city’s affected population or it’s meant to be “…exclusion by design” of the city’s English-speaking seniors.
“A genuine consultation is inclusive and a precursor to good public policy”, said Sawchuck. “It’s not meant to be little more than an afterthought where you can say ‘We’ve been to the meetings, we’ve consulted, we talked to people, and now you can all go back home.”
According to both Udy and Sawchuck, consultations should be extended for several months in addition to on-line and personal exchanges with affected seniors. Paper copies should be made available in both languages after a summary of the consultations could be distributed to assorted senior residences and community centers.
The city’s English language session – presently defined as a preliminary consultation -
will be taking place at the Cummings Center on Ct. Ste. Catherine Road at 1400 hours on the 26th of February.