Seniors are a top priority for the Liberal government

Canada is in the middle of a dramatic demographic shift and seniors are the fastest growing segment of our population. The number of seniors in Canada is expected to double over the next 20 years when one in four Canadians will be older than 65.

We must see this as an opportunity to build a better society for seniors today and tomorrow.

Canada’s seniors have shaped our country in countless ways. They have paved the path for future generations. We owe them our best efforts to prepare for the aging demographic, particularly in communities such as Victoria, which many seniors call home.

The benefits of getting it right will be felt by seniors, families and caregivers – most of whom are women – who often stretch their capacities to care for family or friends.

That’s why the Liberal government has such a strong record of supporting programs and investments in seniors, and plans for much more in the future.

For example, the Liberal government has:

  • Reversed a decision imposed by the Harper regime and restored the age of eligibility for the Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement back to 65 from 67
  • Increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up by up to $947 for 900,000 single seniors, making life much more affordable for many.
  • Taken steps to protect Canadians, particularly seniors, from excessive drug prices. We’re modernizing outdated rules around patented drug prices for the first time in over 20 years.
  • Changed GIS earnings exemptions to reduce the level of earned income used to calculate GIS and Allowance benefits, thus allowing low-income seniors to earn a specified amount of income before triggering a reduction in benefits.
  • Made it easier for Canadians to take time off work to care for a sick or elderly relative through the new Canada Caregiver Credit;
  • Invested $50 million is to support the implementation of Canada’s first ever National Dementia Strategy, to continue to support those living with dementia and their caregivers.

 The Liberal Government recognizes that different seniors have different needs – for example, First Nation seniors. Budget 2019 commits $35 million to support First Nations seniors on reserve to maintain their independence and stay in their homes and communities and commits $8.5 million to First Nations and Inuit communities on the development of a long-term care strategy.

The Liberal government has also recognized that housing is of critical issue for seniors.

High housing prices, high living costs and a limited range of appropriate housing can limit the ability of seniors to age as they choose. I am hearing that in my conversations with seniors across our city. 

That’s one of the reasons they reversed decades of declining federal investment and involvement in Canada’s housing sector through Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy, a 10-year, $40-billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home. As part of this, the Liberal Government recognizes that seniors overwhelmingly prefer to live in home-like, non-medical, settings for as long as possible while still getting the supports they need and made historic investments in dedicated funding for mental health and home care services, totaling more than $11 billion over 10 years.

Now it is time to build on these successes. If re-elected, the Liberal Government will:

  • Increase OAS for seniors over 75 by 10%; and,
  • Increase the CPP survivor’s benefit for those who have lost their life partner by 25%, providing up to $2000 in extra income per year.

These commitments help the most vulnerable seniors, recognizing the reality that older, widowed seniors are most likely to experience poverty.

The Liberals also want to work with the provinces on the best way to achieve universal pharmacare, as one part of a national plan to strengthen medicare something the Scheer Conservatives refuse to do.

If elected, I will work with to ensure the Liberal government continues and even strengthens its efforts to support seniors. For example, I will:

  • Work with local organizations to make this community as age-friendly as possible;
  • Promote the specific needs of Victoria and the other Island communities with aging populations to ensure government programming is tailored to local realities;
  • Work to ensure that a senior’s “lens” is applied to all existing programming (e.g. housing) to ensure that it continues to meet the particular needs of seniors; and
  • Work towards continued strengthening of the legislative, policy and program framework that redirects control for seniors’ housing (and associated supports and care) to seniors themselves.

On October 21, vote for me, Nikki Macdonald, and let me bring my knowledge, experience and network to help Victoria address the challenges facing seniors.