Last week I had the privilege of proposing my first Private Members Bill. Given that I am a new MLA, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, however I was inspired to propose the Silver Alert Act by the disappearance of Shin Noh back in September 2013. When Mr. Noh, a 63 year old man with mid-stage Alzheimer’s never returned from his walk, his family was frantic. The police were called, and together with Coquitlam Search and Rescue did their best to try and find Mr. Noh in the urban and the wooded areas of Coquitlam. While the search lasted several days, Shin was never found.
Subsequently the Nohs organized their own search, and took to social media to recruit volunteers and help coordinate sightings. While numerous sightings were reported, the search parties always seemed to be a day or more behind that last spotting. My husband and I were among the dozens of those who donned rain gear in those early days and did our bit to chase down a potential sighting.
I was inspired by the number of volunteers who came from all over Metro Vancouver to help find Mr. Noh. There was something about this particular search that got people from all ages, sizes and fitness ability to come out days, evenings and weekends – in sunshine and rain – to look for Mr. Noh.
Following a number of other high profile cases of Alzheimer patients going missing, including the tragic death of Joan Warren who was found in Lynn Canyon after wandering from her care facility, I started researching Silver Alert programs. Silver Alert which is similar to the Amber Alert system, has a mandate of calling on first responders to put out a community alert in an organized fashion that lets people know to be on the lookout for a vulnerable citizen.
Anxious to determine if this was viable proposition, I set up meetings with the Alzheimer’s Society, Coquitlam RCMP and Coquitlam Search and Rescue, all of whom fully support and would welcome a Silver Alert program. All these organizations recognize the value of involving the community at large to help find scared and vulnerable neighbours who are wandering our streets.
On February 25th with Shin Noh’s son Sam, and son – in – law Joe, I presented my bill – See the video here. Media from all over the country picked up on the story. I was on CTV National, On the Coast with Stephen Quinn, numerous BC radio stations and even a radio station located in St. Catherines, Ontario. Even the Ottawa Citizen picked up on the story.
I would love to report that the BC Liberals and Terry Lake, the Minister of Health whole heartedly supported this non-partisan idea. Alas, the best I could get is a meeting with the Minister at the end of the month. I will keep you posted. Sigh.
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