Bermuda’s seniors, pictured here at a ‘meet the candidates’ forum, could adopt radical protest techniques like the US Gray Panthers, Age Concern’s Claudette Fleming said yesterday. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
Bermuda’s seniors, pictured here at a ‘meet the candidates’ forum, could adopt radical protest techniques like the US Gray Panthers, Age Concern’s Claudette Fleming said yesterday. *Photo by Raymond Hainey
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26: Bermuda’s seniors yesterday vowed to get more radical in a bid to push their agenda on to the front burner of politics.

And the growing grey population signaled that their increasing political power would be wielded to win better treatment from parliamentarians.

Age Concern’s Claudette Fleming said: “The population is ageing, they have a voice and they represent a significant proportion of voters — they have a significant amount of power.”

Ms Fleming was speaking after an Age Concern-organized forum quizzed the three candidates in the upcoming Devonshire South Central by-election on their plans to help seniors.

She said: “The most important thing the candidates said is that seniors will be included in the process going forward. That was the part they really needed to get, because the issues will change.

“Some of our members told me ‘we have to get a bit more radical’ — I now have to figure out what that means. We’re talking about people who came out of the era of the 1960s and the movements that were powerful then. These are people who know what it means to be radical.

“I think older people are going to get more forceful — we represent our members the way they want to be represented and we will continue to do that.

“Bermuda is a very polite place, but we will be asking our members what they want us to look like and take our cues from that.”

Members of Age Concern met OBA leader Craig Cannonier, the PLP’s Anthony Richardson and Independent candidate David Sullivan at the Peace Lutheran Church in South Shore Road, Devonshire as the three gear up for the November 1 contest.

They heard Bermuda’s seniors express concern over forced retirement at 65, the cost of healthcare and making ends meet.

Sen. Cannonier said that healthcare should be available at the same cost to all.

He added that more homes especially built with seniors in mind should be made available at a reasonable cost, while Government should provide better transport for elderly people.

Sen. Cannonier said: “We need to eliminate age discrimination. It’s been out there for too long and it must be eradicated as soon as possible.”

He said the OBA would look at re-opening the hospital clinic aimed at those without insurance, while older people who owned their own homes would get access to Government-funded Financial Assistance.

Mr Richardson added: “My vision for Bermuda is simply one of respect – where there is a challenge, to come to you and ask you, take your opinions and act on them.

“If we can get to a stage of having more respect for seniors, we will have taken a step towards the kind of Bermuda we want to live in.”

He added that there was no law governing the private sector that said people had to retire at 65 – and encouraged employers to look past birthdates.

Mr Richardson added that older people who sign their homes over to their children could be abused – and dumped in a home by unscrupulous offspring.

He said: “We need to have a policy in place for these people to protect them.” And he defended the closure of the hospital indigent clinic, which was replaced by Future Care, which provided “a better service” and allowed people to stay with their own doctor.

Mr Sullivan added that seniors had become “a specialist interest” and were told they had to retire to make room for younger people.

But he told the meeting: “There has to be an opportunity made available for you to be back in our society and contributing if you wish. I would support anything which gets seniors off the liability side and on to the asset side.”

And he added: “Whatever you want to call it, good healthcare should be available to our senior citizens.”

Ms Fleming said: “The candidates showed they got the message, but the evidence will be in the execution.

“Our members took careful note of what they said and will hold them to account.”