Mike Nickel’s Written Mayoral Forum Responses

Mike Nickel – Seniors 

Fri, 8/20 8:43AM • 5:07 

Transcript from video provided by Mike Nickel to respond to YEG Mayoralty Forum questions 

Note that the questions have been added post-transcription. These questions were sent to Mr. Nickel by email on August 12, 2021. 

Mike Nickel  00:00 

Hi, my name is Mike Nickel, and I’m running to be your mayor. A lot of you folks already know me, I’m a counsellor from Ward 11, and that’s where I am right now sitting in City Council. Unfortunately, wish I could be there, but we got to get on, keep on with the business of the day. But I’m really happy to be here today to talk about seniors issues. The fact of the matter is, is that after 20 years of tax increases, seniors got to really ask the question, when’s enough enough? Now, I can’t change what Mr. Trudeau does or what Mr. Kenney does. I can’t change the past where Mayor Iverson and Mayor Mendell have raised taxes, well, frankly, at record levels. But you got to ask your question, how far is your pension plan getting you? The fact is, I think you’re going backwards. And that’s what we got to stop. Edmonton has to be affordable city. Has to be affordable city for everyone, particularly seniors. I’ve been standing up, you probably know why for many, many years, just trying to bring some common sense back to City Hall. And that’s what I’m going to do today.  

Q1: Aging in place means having access to services, and health and social supports, to live and grow older in one’s home and community, safely and well. Surveys tell us that overwhelmingly, seniors want to age in place; seniors want to age in community. 

Accessible transportation is important for aging in place/community. For Edmonton seniors, what are current transportation barriers? As Mayor, how do you plan to deal with these challenges/barriers? 

Mike Nickel  01:01 

That’s, that’s a very good question. And to be quite honest, it’s what I’ve been trying to do for eight years. The bus network redesign, as many seniors know, isn’t working. I didn’t support the BNR. Matter of fact, I supported administration’s approach, which was to roll out piece by piece so we could get the bugs out. And the fact of the matter is, we’re gonna have to put a lot of that stuff back after COVID, after the fact that they’ve cut, just recklessly cut service to so many of you. I don’t understand how it is in terms of the attitude of this Council, right, that you can move bus stops farther apart, for people with accessibility issues like seniors, and expect to put more bums in the seats. It doesn’t work. So we have to bring some sense back. And there’s other ideas we can do. There’s other things we can provide seniors in terms of vouchers and DATS and support, and that’s going to be part of my programme going forward. Seniors need to stay in their homes, but they also need to be able to move in and out of them as well. 

Q2: All levels of government provide services to seniors to support aging safely and well in community. At the municipal level, what current services for seniors do you think are a success and what are your plans to maintain/enhance those services? What services are lacking and how do you plan to address the service gaps? 

Mike Nickel  01:58 

So, if there’s one thing I know that’s a success, it’s my senior centre in Mill Woods. I gotta tell you, it’s some of the best conversations I have is the Mill Woods Senior Centre. So, our seniors centres are are working. But the fact of the matter is, seniors are going backwards. They just can’t afford the taxes. They can’t afford the utility fee increases. And at the end of the day, if they’re going backwards, it, this is not the affordable city we want to be in. We need seniors. We need seniors and what they contribute in terms of being just volunteers and so on. So, at the end of the day, we have to keep our eye on the prize, which is affordability. Which means we have to cut the red tape. We have to drive in business. We have to lower taxes. And if any of these candidates sit there today and say there isn’t money in the system to do these things, well, I’m going to tell you, that’s a lie. The fact is we have lots of ability, and we have lots of money that we can move around to make things happen. So at the end of the day, it’s affordability for all. 

Q3: During the COVID pandemic, seniors have been differentially impacted. With Canada entering a fourth wave driven by the Delta variant, and coming changes in provincial public health policy, some seniors are concerned about their health and safety; and the healthy and safety of their loved ones. If elected Mayor, what will you do at the municipal  level to address concerns and to support the health and safety of senior Edmontonians and families? 

Mike Nickel  03:09 

Well, there’s no question, COVID affected seniors greater than any other group in the City of Edmonton. And so at the end of the day, we also have to realize the limitations. Politicians are not doctors. I’m frankly I find it shocking, shocking that I have people on City Council now that think they’re smarter than the Provincial Health Authority. I find it difficult to understand, now that the province is managing the restrictions, that they want to go backwards. So we can’t go backwards. We have to go forwards in a safe, sane, responsible manner. I am not a virologist. And unlike some of my Council who feel that they are, only listening to the experts they like, I was continue to listen to the Provincial Health Authority. They’re the experts. They’re the ones responsible for this file, not the City. So we have to follow their direction and we have to be adult about this and not second guess. We got to just keep moving forward as things roll out.  

Q4: Some might ask why have a mayoral forum on “seniors issues” at all. Some wonder if seniors are a unique constituency. Do you think seniors are a unique constituency? When you think about municipal policies, what issues and considerations about the Edmonton senior demographic are at the forefront for you?  

Mike Nickel  03:11 

I don’t think there will be anybody up here today that says seniors are not a unique constituency, and be very, very important. The fact of the matter is, the seniors built the city. And I gotta tell you, it’s a grand city, but it’s a city in trouble. And so, if we’re going to move forward, we have to, you know, we judge our community on how we take care of the most vulnerable. Those are our homeless, and those are our seniors. And the question we go back to once and once again, is how are you being treated? Are you going forward? Are you going backwards? What we’re missing downtown is just some common sense at City Hall. Why can’t you cut the grass? Why can’t you pick up the garbage? I mean, these are just the basics we need to do, but we don’t seem to be executing those. And so, seniors are all about common sense. So the common sense constituency, if you really want to think about it. So those, that’s what seniors bring. They forced politicians back to the basics – back to the core services. And then we go back all the way through, they can have their rainbows and unicorns all they want downtown. I don’t think that’s what seniors need right now. Seniors need to get back to the basics.