Pontiac consultation with seniors
Mo Laidlaw

The Seniors roundtable des Collines (Table autonome des aînés des Collines) held a consultation on Saturday February 7, 2015 at the Marcel Lavigne Community Centre in Luskville, which more than 60 people attended. Residents over age 50 were invited. They form 35% of the municipality’s population.

The morning started with Mayor Roger Larose welcoming participants, followed by Councillor Denis Dubé explaining what MADA is (Municipalité amie des aînés, or Senior friendly municipality) and how the morning would proceed, promising a “crust of bread” at the end (lunch).

As the first part of becoming senior-friendly, the municipality sent out a survey last fall, asking everyone over 40 to complete it. Marie-Pierre Drolet, the director of the Seniors roundtable, summarized the results of the survey with slides in both English and French. (Copies of the slides are available at the municipal offices). She spoke in French but simultaneous translation into English was available for those who required it.

Results of the survey
205 people filled in surveys: 9% under age 50, 25% in the 50-59 age group, 32% 60-69, and 32 % over 70, with half of these being over 75. Slightly more women (56%) responded than men. 29% of surveys came from people living in ward 4, Luskville; followed by ward 2,Quyon, 18%; and ward 5, Breckenridge/Luskville, 16%. The three other wards each contributed about 10%. Most of the respondents live with a spouse (71%), but 16% live alone. Most people are happy to some degree (95%), and feel secure (74%), but 52% feel there are not enough services in Pontiac.

Although most respondents have a driver’s licence and a car, reaching health appointments, grocery shopping and banking cause transport problems, with some people relying on family or friends to go places. Seasonal residents and those living in ward 6 and the Lac Beauclair area of ward 1 feel they do not receive enough municipal information. About 34% of respondents feel they need more information on bylaws and permits, and recreational services and libraries. 21% do not have internet access and 65% of these don’t want it.

Apart from the Quyon Family centre, Saint Vincent de Paul and the Lions Club, organizations which are known to more than half the participants, most other social organizations are not well known.

27% get help from someone who does not live with them: a family member, friend or neighbour, or paid employee; mostly for exterior work and house maintenance. At least 40% expect to need more help with housekeeping, exterior maintenance, transport, health care and errands, as they get older, to allow them to stay in their homes. 56% mentioned housing for seniors as one of their two priorities.

The MADA committee includes: Pierrette and Bruno Alary, Émile Coté, Marie-Pierre Drolet, Denis Dubé, Guy Faubert, Carl Hager, Benedikt Kuhn, Diane Lacasse, Marc Laframboise, Michel Laporte, Denise Lavigne, Agnès Perrier, Marie-Danielle Pied, Pierre Sauvageau, Thomas Soulière and Robert Wagner. Some of these committee members led the next step, which saw participants divide into seven tables (English and French) and suggest problems and priorities. After deciding which were their three most important, the groups came together to present their results to the entire room.

Some of the ideas mentioned were: providing directories of people available to do house cleaning, snow removal, garden work or external maintenance (for pay), setting up a coop to build a seniors residence, more information from the municipality on social and exercise activities, making river access points, parks with exercise stations for seniors, and having a walk-in medical clinic. It was mentioned that Shawville (doctors and hospital) is a long distance call from parts of the municipality (and even the contact number for the Director of the Round table is long distance). Another complaint was the lack of a bank, leading some people to have large amounts of cash on hand - a security risk. (Probably those with no desire for internet access.) Someone summed up: “Health, leisure, activities, shopping - all need transport out of Pontiac,” a problem because of the length of the municipality.

Mathieu Ravignat, MP for the riding of Pontiac, which includes most of the MRC des Collines, who took part in the consultation, said he would take the concerns he had heard to Ottawa. The overall results will be used by the MADA committee to propose an action plan to the municipal council, to be adopted in fall 2015.

After this a very welcome brunch was served.