City Seeking to Improve Senior Services, Reduce Budget Requirement
Medicine Hat – City of Medicine Hat administration is looking to gather information and further explore how to better serve our community’s growing seniors population, promoting both community vibrancy and financial sustainability.
In August 2016, staff were directed by City Council to examine alternative models, along with associated operating costs, as part of the Seniors Centre Development Project. The planned work will help improve the selection and quality of programming offered and determine if an alternate governance and operating model is better positioned to deliver services, and do so in a way that reduces the need for contribution from the tax base.
“Staff have already begun compiling information from across the province,” said Brian Mastel, Public Services Commissioner. “Medicine Hat is the only municipality in the province operating its own facility. We’ve learned that alternative models may have access to additional revenue streams and be better able to capitalize on partnerships with social agencies and private businesses. This flexibility and nimbleness allows them to offer a wider variety of programs, services and workshops – anything from cooking classes to wellness sessions to seminars on legal or financial matters.”
The annual cost of operating the Veiner and Strathcona Centres is $1.42 million. Considering an alternative operating model will help ensure taxpayer dollars are managed prudently, Mastel said. The City is facing increased financial pressure on a number of fronts, and reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of services and operating models is a key component of the City’s Financially Fit initiative.
A presentation will occur at the Public Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 1, highlighting recommendations to:
- expand service offerings,
- consult with community members to identify what services are best suited to the needs of current and future seniors,
- explore whether another operator is better able to deliver services.
More than one-third of all City residents are over the age of 50. In 25 years, seniors will make up half of the city’s population.
“We want the public to be involved in this process as much as possible,” Mastel added. “We know the senior population in our city is diverse and is continuing to grow. We need to ask current and future seniors what services they would like to see so our seniors and our operations can thrive for years into the future.”
The proposed timeline would see community consultation in the fall, exploration and evaluation of alternative models over the winter and a recommendation brought forward to Council in the spring of 2020.
Click here to view the Public Services Committee meeting agenda.
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Backgrounder – Quick Facts
- According to the 2016 federal census, Medicine Hat has 25,795 seniors (50+ years old), which is approximately 38 per cent of the community.
- Demographic forecasts over the next 25 years show the 50+ age category growing to comprise roughly 50 per cent of the City’s population.
- The Seniors Centre (Veiner and Strathcona centres) has 1,087 paid members, or 4.2 per cent of the 50+ population. Membership is declining.
- Medicine Hat is the only comparable municipality providing direct governance and operations of a Seniors Centre.
- The direct annual operating cost of the Seniors Centre is $1.42M or $1,306/member.
- Funding for the Seniors Centre comes primarily from taxes ($376K) and Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding ($598K).
- 37 per cent of all FCSS funding available in Medicine Hat is used to operate the Seniors Centre. FCSS funding is 80 per cent provincial funds and 20 per cent municipal funds.
- An $11.6M capital investment was made in the recently expanded Seniors Centre facility.