SFU marketing expert says geezer vote crucial to May 2017 election outcome

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A marketing authority says there are a lot of unhappy seniors in B.C.

      With an election coming up, Lindsay Meredith suggested that these folks could actually make or break a party’s chances of winning.

      “One of the biggest market segments in B.C. are geezers just like me, old people,” Meredith told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      According to the professor emeritus with the Beedie School of Business at SFU, the “geezer vote” is important for two reasons.

      “Number one, there are a lot of them. Two, out of all the voting segments that are out there, it’s old folks who vote the most,” he explained.

      Meredith mentioned seniors because he wanted to give some free advice to the B.C. NDP.

      According to Meredith, New Democrats are in trouble, and if things go the way they’re going now, Premier Christy Clark and her B.C. Liberals will get another term.

      “The Liberals are doing a very good job at nailing the NDP,” he noted.

      As for the B.C. NDP, Meredith said that he’s worried about the party’s marketing strategy leading to the May 9, 2017 provincial election.

      “So what would the NDP want to do?” Meredith asked. “They got a ton of stuff they could attack the Liberals on with regard to health care, with regard to hospital line-ups, waits, basically getting shunted sideways, lack of family physicians. There’s a ton of stuff there they could go after, and it would resonate with the biggest voter segment, the old folks, the geezers like me. And they’re just letting it walk right by.”

      According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate, there are around 853,000 seniors in B.C. They constitute 18 percent of the population.

      On March 9 this year, the B.C. Liberal government announced an investment of $500 million over the next four years to improve care for seniors.

      The funding includes $275 million for home- and community-care services. In addition to the $500 million investment, the province also declared that health authorities will continue increasing their budgets for home and community care over the next four years. These budgets will reach about $200 million above present levels by 2020-21.

      The province also noted that over $2.9 billion have been invested in home and community care in 2016 throughout the province. The amount represents an increase of over $1.3 billion from 2001.

      A different picture is presented in a report released on March 27 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

      According to the ‘Privatization and Declining Access to B.C. Seniors’ Care: An Urgent Call for Policy Change’, access to residential care and assisted living spaces declined by 20 percent between 2001 and 2016 for people aged 75 years and over.

      The report written by researcher Andrew Longhurst also noted that there was a 30 percent decline between 2001 and 2016 in access by B.C. seniors to publicly funded home support.

      In September last year, the Canadian Medical Association released a report titled ‘The State of Seniors Health Care in Canada’.

      According to the report, B.C. ranks seventh out of the 10 provinces in terms of longest wait for hip replacements for seniors.

      In addition, B.C. ranks ninth for longest wait for cataract surgery.

      “If was NDP, that’s where I would slam like mad on that issue, because right now, there are a lot of unhappy seniors, who still have a lot of wait times,” Meredith said.

      Going back to the principles of marketing, the professor emeritus said that there are two things to look for: number of users and intensity of usage.

      Applied on the election, Meredith said that there are many old folks in B.C. who are not happy with the state of care available for them, and they’re the heaviest users of health care.

      This issue shouldn’t be hard to miss by the political parties. As Meredith said: “I call that the bulge on the snake that’s going through the boa constrictor. It’s the goat.”