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LIVING 60 : New seniors advocate brings skills to table

Dan Levitt has big shoes to fill when he takes over Isobel Mackenzie’s provincial role this spring
B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix, Dan Levitt, and Isobel Mackenzie all came together in late January 2024 to announce that Levitt will take over for Mackenzie this spring, as seniors advocate. (Government of BC/Special to Langley Advance Times)

During a recent visit to Langley, B.C.’s first seniors advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, joked that unlike the Rolling Stones, she won’t be back for another ‘farewell tour’ after her retirement this spring.

She shared a little humour and the state of senior in B.C. during a visit to the Langley Seniors Resource Centre just a few days after her replacement was announced.

After a decade as a voice for B.C.’s over-65s, Mackenzie announced last year that she’d retiring in early April. An executive search commenced, and in late January, the province appointed Dan Levitt as the new seniors advocate for British Columbia.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix spoke of how Mackenzie became the first seniors advocate in Canada.

“We thank her for being a powerful, impactful voice,” Dix said when introducing her replacement.

“Dan Levitt has championed the rights of seniors for 30 years and with his extensive experience he is an excellent choice for B.C.’s seniors advocate,” he said. “With Mr. Levitt, government will continue to work collaboratively to help seniors throughout the province to live their healthiest, happiest lives.”

Levitt is anxious to embark on his new post as head for the Office of the Seniors Advocate, an independent office of the B.C. provincial government, which acts in the interest of seniors and their caregivers. The office monitors and analyzes seniors’ services and makes recommendations to government and service providers to address systemic issues in five areas: health care, housing, income support, community support, and transportation.

“I greatly admire the work of Isobel Mackenzie, and I understand the advocacy needed to advance the rights of seniors and analyze the most pressing issues impacting their welfare,” Levitt shared.

Since 2021, he has been the chief executive officer at KinVillage in Delta, helping shape a dementia-friendly future for seniors and their loved ones.

From 2010-21, Levitt was executive director of Tabor Village, a seniors’ living community based in Abbotsford. Before taking on that role, Levitt worked in leadership positions in several B.C.- and Ontario-based senior-living and elder-care facilities.

Levitt is an adjunct professor in gerontology at Simon Fraser University, an adjunct professor in the school of nursing at the University of British Columbia and a sessional instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

He is inspired by the aging journeys of his grandparents and great-grandparents, and is now supporting his parents, who are living life to the fullest in their mid-80s.

“My goal is for every senior, their families, and their caregivers to be able to exercise their agency to access the supports and services they need,” Levitt said. “As seniors advocate, I will work collaboratively with seniors, government officials, and service providers to promote healthy aging.”

As of the last census, B.C. had five million people, and a million of those, a full fifth, were seniors aged 65 or older.

RELATED: Seniors Directory Spring 2024

About the Author: Langley Advance Times Staff

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