After transportation services for seniors in the Northwest Territories were called into question through CanAge, Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization, the NWT Seniors Society agreed that systems in the territory are indeed lacking.
“Other than Yellowknife, there are not a lot of public transportation systems in the NWT,” said Suzette Montreuil, executive director of the NWT Seniors’ Society. “That especially affects Elders or people with disabilities, getting around the communities.
“Lots of Elders don’t necessarily have access to vehicles, it does create a source of a problem in terms of the functional activities of daily living but it’s also one of the issues that Elders report on quite often,” she added.
Despite Yellowknife having superior transporation options compared to other NWT communities, Montreuil said the city still has “some limitations.”
However, according to a spokesperson from the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, the organization has been making do by providing taxi vouchers to help get around shortcomings in the city.
The foundation also has travel services in place for its breakfast program.
Yet the crux of the problem remains in smaller NWT communities, according to Montreuil.
Adjustments have been made to try to address the aforementioned gaps, but more still needs to be done in order to fully satisfy seniors’ needs.
“The home support workers will often take Elders to appointments, or the homecare program will often try to fill out that gap, but it’s not really what their specialty is,” said Montreuil. ‘If it was organized, and it was available at the community level, that would make a really big difference, even if it was done on a weekly basis.
“If on Wednesday there was someone who could give an Elder a ride to anywhere then the Elders would organize around that, but not having any form of transportation, if you have any kind of mobility issues, it really gets in the way,” she said.
Montreuil hopes communities will be proactive in addressing the inadequacies.
“If the community has some funding, if they were able to offer it, it would be great, instead of leaving it up to the best wishes of someone who in the community who sees the need and responds to the need, but if it was actually mandated and funded, that would be great,” she said.