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Brian Mason Meeting

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Elder Advocates Of Alberta Society

August 6, 2015

Via Email letter brian.mason@gov.ab.ca

  adele.peters@gov.ab.ca

The Honourable Mr. Brian Mason 

Minister of Transportation,    # 324 Legislature Building

10800 97 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, Canada T5K 2B6

Dear Mr. Minister:

REFERENCE – MEETING – MASS MONITORING OF ALBERTA’S SAFEST DRIVERS

We would be grateful to meet with you in regard to senior driving issues.

Albertans across the province are being denied the right to drive even though

they meet the legal requirement.

A BRIEF HISTORY

In 2002, without justification, the Honourable Ed. Stelmach, Minister of Transportation, the Executive Committee under the watch of the Honourable Premier Klein changed 

the Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation of the Alberta Traffic Safety Act, Alberta Regulation 320/2002, Section 16(2).  

The change required that persons at age seventy-five and thereafter provide a proof of medical examination prior to their license renewal. Thus began the mass monitoring of Alberta’s senior drivers.

 

This legislative change was surreptitiously introduced, no fan fare, no press releases, not all MLA’s were informed, not even all government MLA’s were informed. It was not noted in Hansard,

 

The protocol, introduced to Physician’s Offices by the Primary Care Network, was known as the Simard MD & DriveABLE pilot project.  This sophisticated, financial elder abuse has been promoted under the guise of research, science and safety.

We would add that the same government who introduced the Traffic Act change, paved the way with Human Rights Legislation introduced by the Honorable Ron Ghitter  of Calgary in 1972  The legislation excluded “age” in Sections # 4 & # 5.  

Thus discrimination of seniors cannot be challenged under Human Rights legislation.

The collateral damage has been unconscionable. It has been reported that in 2014, over 8,000 Albertans lost their right to drive.

We allege that physicians were clamoring for a raise.  The Honourable Mr. Klein and his executive committee, Ed Stelmmach , Transportation Minister,  creatively conceived the idea of the mass monitoring of senior drivers.

The concept was made which effectively gave a raise to physicians, a raise given on the backs of seniors. 

There is no other reason, why would you have this mass testing of older drivers who pose no danger to road safety?  We were betrayed by our own government, by our own elected MLA’s.

COST TO TAXPAYERS

 A physician may bill Alberta Health Services, well in excess of $200.00. for each senior tested. Up to $160.00 for medical assessment, $75,00 for Simard MD and perhaps a bounty of $36.00.  We are told that very often the Medical consists of little more than a blood pressure check.

 BOUNTY ON SENIOR DRIVERS  

Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Science, published, that since 2006, Ontario has been paying doctors $36.25 for each patient referred to the Transportation Ministry who may be unfit to drive.  Is there such a bounty on senior drivers in Alberta?

 

OLDER DRIVERS ARE DOCUMENTED TO BE SAFEST DRIVERS ON ROAD

According to Alberta Transportation statistics, seniors are the safest drivers on Alberta roads, it is documented they have the lowest casualty rates. It is also reality, that they do not cause the carnage on Alberta roads

This is true across Canada and the US, seniors are the safest drivers. 

 The fact that seniors are safe drivers, has now been reinforced by the United States Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They stated that they were wrong in thinking that an older population would lead to more accidents, just the reverse has happened.  This was published on February 14, 2014 by Joan Lowy of the Associated Press. 

 

Anne McCartt, the United States Insurance Institute for Highway Safety senior vice president and co-author of the study has commented, “This should help ease fears that aging baby boomers are a safety threat”.

 

SIMARD MD & DRIVEABLE PILOT PROJECT

Though the Simard MD cognitive test is officially not recognized by the government, nevertheless the physician is paid $75.00 for administering the test, though often some office person administers the test.

The government pays the physician to administer the test.  Often the test is administered by a primary care RN (PCN) who is also paid by the government.

Either way, the senior is also in essence paying for it.

SIMARD MD TEST

It has been widely published that the Simard MD cognitive test was developed by Bonnie Dobbs PhD and Donald Schopflocher PhD, of the Medically At-Risk Driver Centre. (MARD).

In lectures and public presentations, Bonnie Dobbs presents the Simard MD as a product of their research. She refers to the Simard MD as the “screening tool that we have developed”.

She informs listeners that the test is  “based on eight years of research”.

At no time, during local presentations, has Bonnie Dobbs told listeners that the Simard MD was not developed by her and her fellow PhD but is essentially Der DemTect test.

 Der DemTect was developed in year 2000, by Dr. Pasquale Calabrese, Joseph Kessler & Elke Kalbe in Bochum, Germany.  

On the MARD website the SIMARD MD is cited as a“modification of the DemTect because it uses a subset of the items from that screening tool“.

 Indeed.  We submit that the Simard MD is hardly a subset.  The Simard MD is in fact the DemTect test minus question 4, renamed Simard MD and touted as “a new screening tool”.

 Furthermore, Bonnie Dobbs has widely published  – refers to the Simard MD as a “research based tool”, the reason we developed it”.

 When challenged concerning the danger of the test, she responds,

            “A cognitively intact person, of any age, will do well on the Simard MD”.

This is false.   This is the false premise that is the cornerstone of the Simard MD & DriveABLE pilot project.

There is much more to be said./ much more to be added.

The threat of losing ones right to drive, is one of the greatest issues confronting older Albertans. 

Numbers of fear filled  seniors call us prior to making an appointment with their doctor seeking advice.

In regard to a meeting, we shall be pleased to provide a detailed agenda if so requested. 

We would be also most grateful if the Honourable Minister of Seniors would

be in attendance.

Please allow us to be in receipt of your response concerning this matter, by

the 20th of August 2015.   

Thank you.

Elder Advocates of Alberta Society,

c.c The Honourable Minister of Seniors, Ms. Sarah Hoffman

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