July 21st, 2024

Elder abuse response program losing funding

By Lethbridge Herald on March 6, 2024.

Lethbridge Seniors Citizens Organization executive director Rob Miyashiro talks to reporters on Wednesday about the termination of funding for the LEARN program. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization executive director Rob Miyashiro announced on Wednesday that funding for the Lethbridge Elder Abuse Response Network (LEARN) has been terminated. 

Miyashiro said the LSCO has been receiving funding from the provincial government for the last 12 years and on Feb. 29 they were told that will no longer be the case at the end of March. 

“The problem that I have with this whole thing is not necessarily that we weren’t renewed for funding, the problem is the way that they did it,” said Miyashiro. 

He said he has been in the business long enough to know that funding comes and goes, even after having it for decades. 

“The problem is that on Feb. 29 on budget day this government sent the e-mail saying that you are no longer going to be funded by the end of March, by the end of our contract,” said Miyashiro. 

He said there are over 20 active cases that now suddenly will have to be closed without warning, without having time to prepare those seniors physically or emotionally to lose the support they have been able to access thanks to that funding. 

“This government’s callous indifference to at-risk seniors experiencing abuse runs counter to their budget day exclamations of keeping communities safe and secure. As a result of this decision to end funding for LEARN Case Management, at-risk seniors will continue to suffer abuse with no possibility of supportive interventions available to help them,” said Miyashiro. 

He added that those seniors who are vulnerable and at risk of abuse will not only be losing access to crisis support, trauma-informed approach, connection to the justice, legal and police systems and post-crisis support and planning, but also they will lose access to emergency housing that in many cases has been the difference between life and death for some seniors experiencing abuse. 

“We developed a model for emergency placement for seniors at imminent risk of abuse and that’s a partnership with the Green Acres foundation. It’s called the LEARN model because what we do is hide seniors in plain sight,” said Miyashiro. 

He said the irony is LEARN is such a good model that it has been adopted by the Ministry of Seniors, Housing, Community and Social Services for implementation across the province. The Minister calls it the LEARN model and yet the ones that developed it here in Lethbridge are no longer being funded, said Miyashiro.

He said terminating the funding was not only affecting seniors in the community, but also their case manager Amy Cook, who has worked  hard to help as many seniors as she can in her three years with LEARN. 

In the last quarter of 2023, Cook had 25 new files started which increased the active caseload to 48.  She safety planned 109 times with 46 people and conducted 64 risk assessments with 46 people. She also dealt with 19 cases of domestic/family violence.

Cook said that beyond losing her job due to the funding not being renewed, she was devastated knowing she would not be able to continue helping those individuals that have come to rely on her. 

“I had to phone close to 30 people in the last few days and say, ‘hey I know that you’re scared, I know that you just told me yesterday you’re so thankful there’s at least help for you, but I can’t actually help you anymore,’” said Cook. 

She said cutting the funding from LEARN is going to impact everyone who was on her caseload, but it also has the potential to impact every senior in Lethbridge and in surrounding area. 

“Elder abuse doesn’t discriminate seniors of any socio-economical status, any ethnicity, any race, any age, any cognitive ability,” said Cook. 

She said the impact of shutting down LEARN will be felt for many months to come, as people continue to call the LSCO asking for help and they are unable to provide it. 

“Over the next six months is really where it’s going to be hard because we’re going to continue to get calls here at the senior centre looking for elder abuse supports, I’m going to have to continue to have that conversation with different people and they’re going to ask who do I call? And the answer is going to be there isn’t anybody,” said Cook. 

She said unfortunately there will be no one she could direct them to because there is no legislation on elder abuse. 

“Elder abuse is not a criminal offence unless it’s physical assault, sexual assault, or theft, so there’s nowhere to send these people and that’s going to be the hardest part over the next six months assuming we get funding in those six months if not more,” said Cook. 

Miyashiro said he is optimistic about being able to receive funding from a different source, but the problem he anticipates is how long that may take. 

“I am optimistic that we can get some funding, I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know how much it is, but I’m optimistic we can get something because the funding they’re giving out is based on our model, we’ll just be getting it from a different source,” said Miyashiro.

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So just go about your “business” Rob and get funding from the other source.


What can be said about a government, who, through AimCo, has taken over $45 million from pension funds to invest in Razor Energy, a junior oil & gas company, that, as of January 30th this year, entered the insolvency process and yet denies funding to a valuable and successful local program assisting elders in crisis?
Beyond shameful!


Agreed, it’s more than shameful. This government does not care about the vulnerable! Full Stop! If we think the r ever going to change we r living in dreamland.


this is the core of so-called cons govts: do not care about the vulnerable, and no support for that type; in love with the already ultra wealthy, and plenty of money from the public purse for that type.
excellent comment, imo.
buckwheat, you all heart…burn, that is.


Excuse me however with another funding source available this is nothing more than a political hatchet job disguised. Miyashiro has no point other than to score some political points. There is no issue. Burn baby burn. No one is going to “suffer”.

Last edited 4 months ago by buckwheat

well, if you ever come under power of attorney and the person you chose or is assigned turns out worse than you could have believed…you would want an elder abuse oversight. just to say, elder abuse is far too common.

pursuit diver

There is no money tree and everyone should realize this! Funds have been blown in so many other areas, such as a $662,000 playground in Galt Gardens, just because we would lose that revitalization money. Spend, spend, spend!
Myashiro was a fierce supporter of the SCS and many of the non-profits that suck hundreds of millions out of the federal, provincial and local tax dollars as well as the donor dollars throughout the province, annually.
We are facing tough times and we all need to realize that the gravy train is empty!
There are other ways to get support!

Last edited 4 months ago by pursuit diver

there is a reason for everything, what is the reason this happened? Maybe Miyashiro should cut some of his not-needed staff, take a look at the staff lineup we used to run the senior Centre with one manager paid and the rest volunteers