VICTORIA — British Columbia’s new seniors advocate is Dan Levitt, an adjunct professor of gerontology at Simon Fraser University and the head of a non-profit long-term care home.
Levitt said Friday he is “deeply honoured” to be appointed the province’s second seniors advocate, and thanked current advocate Isobel Mackenzie, who is retiring in April.
He said the demographic shift as the population ages means it’s important to start “rethinking aging” and no longer view it as something to fear but something to embrace.
Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement and said Levitt will be responsible for monitoring and analyzing the province’s services geared toward seniors in the areas of health care, housing, income support, community support and transportation.
Levitt said his first priority will be travelling the province to meet seniors in rural and urban centres to hear their concerns and produce reports on how to improve their lives.
Mackenzie said it’s “bittersweet” to be leaving the role, but she has “great confidence” in the team that chose Levitt as her successor.
She said she is thankful for Dix’s “unwavering support” during her tenure.
Dix said Mackenzie’s 10 years in the role saw her become known for “being highly effective and for her fierce advocacy,” tackling important issues such as long-term care home staffing deficiencies.
The minister said he believes B.C. was the first province to create such an advocate for seniors.
“It has a crucial role in oversight and advocacy, playing its part to address the broad systemic issues that affect seniors.”
With our population rapidly growing and aging, the Office of the Seniors Advocate is becoming more important than ever to ensure a more accessible, transparent and accountable approach to seniors care in B.C., Dix said.
Levitt said he wants to address a societal narrative that sees “aging as a negative thing,” leading to an unwarranted “fear of older people.”
“There’s a fear of growing old and I think if we turn that upside down and we rethink it, we embrace it and we think about longevity as a good thing. I think that’s a much more healthy approach,” he said. Levitt said he believes it’s important “to have a positive viewpoint going forward about growing old.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2024.
The Canadian Press