Opposition spokeswoman for seniors Louise Jackson has questioned why Throne Speech promises for Bermuda’s elderly weren’t implemented years ago.

“Better late than never,” said Ms Jackson, of the pledge to table an amendment to the Human Rights Act eliminating age discrimination.

A change to the law would do away with a mandatory retirement age of 65.

“The One Bermuda Alliance certainly appreciates that Government has finally recognised so many problems that seniors have suffered for years,” Ms Jackson said.

“However, most of the statements they have made haven’t been promises, as such.”

In the speech, Government said elder abuse legislation and health insurance reforms would be introduced.

The issue of upfront payments for medical treatment was said to be “already being addressed”.

Responded Ms Jackson: “They say that, but the Health Council has also said that this is a very difficult problems that they can’t see to fruition. They’re not saying what they’re actually going to do.”

She added that a promise to review the eligibility criteria for Financial Assistance so that seniors who own their own homes could qualify “isn’t the same as saying they will actually do it”.

Ms Jackson said: “These are issues I’ve been talking about for the last eight years. How many people have suffered in the meantime?”

Age Concern director Claudette Fleming commended the speech’s attention to seniors, saying that many of the items brought up in the Throne Speech had been on the agenda at a recent meeting of the charity.

Age Concern aired its views last week, with the various political candidates for the Devonshire South Central by-election.

“It seems like the concerns of our members made it straight to the top,” Ms Fleming said.

“In particular, addressing the fact that some, I stress not all but some, seniors want the option of being able to work past 65, makes the amendment to the Human Rights Act to include anti-age discrimination very important.”

Amendments to the Elder Abuse Act would hopefully include assets protection, she said, to protect the elderly from family members and others who take over their homes but neglect their needs.

Ms Fleming said the group was in “total support” of amendments to Financial Assistance for senior homeowners.

“In addition, Age Concern is encouraged about the mention in the Throne Speech of working more with the non-profit sector. We have continuously expressed our desire to be at the planning table with a view of being delegated some of the work that needs to be done.

“We want to work and we want to work with our public sector leaders that are committed to making Bermuda a place to age that is the envy of the world. We therefore look forward to sitting at the National Ageing Strategy table, making our contribution and strengthening our commitment to work through collaborative and decisive action.”

Government has said senior will be the focus of the National Strategy on Ageing, which remains a work in progress.

Article from Royal Gazette