On National Seniors Day, Are The Federal Parties Listening to Older Canadians?

seniors day

At age 65, Green Party leader Elizabeth May is the only federal leader who can officially celebrate National Seniors Day. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Matthew Usherwood)

October 1 is National Seniors Day in Canada, a moment for us to cherish the older people in our lives and recognize the contributions and sacrifices they’ve made — not only in our lives, but for our country as well.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement commemorating the day, noting that, “seniors make Canada stronger every day.” And Green Party leader Elizabeth May — at age 65, a vibrant example of the face of modern seniors — tweeted that she, “honours the lifetime of work and value that seniors have brought to Canada.”

Across the country, not only today but throughout the month, events will take place to honour older Canadians, from workshops that help seniors make connections in their communities to free events like driving seminars, yoga sessions, entertainment and wellness coaching. A big shout-out to the town of Prince George, B.C., which captured the true spirit of the day by offering free transit service to seniors.

Every year on National Seniors Day, CARP raises its flag in communities across Canada to celebrate the achievements made by this age group. This year in Toronto, CARP partnered with Sanofi to present “Pillars of Strength,” a larger-than-life photo exhibit celebrating our seniors, featuring compelling images of seniors and words from Canadians across the country.

Meanwhile, CARP invited Ontario health minister Christine Elliott to attend an electronic flag raising and share an important message on the need for increased adult vaccination rates, particularly as we head into flu season.

“Seniors are cherished members of our communities, contributing to our lives in countless ways,” said Marissa Lennox, Chief Policy Officer at CARP. “The flu can rob older adults of their health and independence, changing their lives irrevocably.”

With a federal election coming in 20 days, this year’s event takes on added importance as the CARP FACES platform shines a light on the important issues that may affect your vote.

“On National Seniors Day, CARP is calling on federal leaders to commit to implementing a national seniors strategy,” said Lennox.  “While there have been numerous platform commitments from all parties on seniors issues, Canada still lacks a comprehensive, national plan for our aging population.”

As the campaign unfolds, we’ll be tracking the promises each party is offering to woo older voters. Here’s a snapshot of their platforms:

Liberals

  • Increase the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) from $12,000 to $15,000. (An example of how this increased BPA would work: if you had an income of $40,000, your taxable income would be $40,000 – $15,000 = $25,000.) The Liberals say this will save the average family $600 and lift 38,000 Canadians out of poverty.
  • Raise Old Age Security (OAS) by 10% after the age of 75. That would put an extra $729 on average back in your pocket.
  • Increase the CPP survivor benefit by 25%, which could mean up to $2,000 more for widowed seniors, many of whom are women.

Conservatives

  • Repealing the federal Carbon Tax (saving money on gas, groceries and heating).
  • Removing HST/GST on home heating bills: this will save an average of $107 per year.
  • Restoring the Public Transit tax credit: If claimed, this could save you up to $126/year.
  • Imposing a Universal Tax Cut: This means lowering the tax rate on low-income Canadians, including seniors. (How this will benefit you: if you’re making less than $47,630, your tax rate will drop from 15% to 13.5%.) The Conservatives say this measure will save $440/year for singles and $850/year for couples.
  • Increasing the Age Credit by $1,000 for those 65+. This could save individual seniors $150/year and senior couples $300.
  • improving the Fairness for Persons with Disabilities Act by allowing 35,000 more Canadians to qualify and apply for the Disability Tax Credit
  • Setting GIS and OAS increases to reflect the true cost of living for seniors
  • Monitoring inflation so that it does not erode seniors’ quality of living
  • Incentivizing Canadians to start building their retirement portfolio at an earlier age, so we don’t outlive our savings

The Green Party

  • Ensuring the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) remains robust by increasing over time the target income replacement rate from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of income received during working years.Protecting pensioners whose companies go bankrupt
  • Developing a National Home Care Policy
  • Developing and funding a National Dementia Strategy
  • Creating a national pharmacare plan
  • Supporting innovative home-sharing plans and other measures to allow people to stay in their own homes as long as possible.
  • Creating more long-term care beds in neighbourhood facilities
  • Fighting elder abuse and seniors isolation
  • Improving mental health and palliative care

NDP

  • Introducing a National Senior and National Dementia strategy
  • Free dental care for those making less than $70,000.
  • Putting pensioners at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt
  • Developing national care standards for home care and long-term care
  • Tackling wait times and improving access to primary care across the country
  • Building more affordable housing
  • Creating a national, universal pharmacare plan

People’s Party of Canada

  • Abolishing capital gains tax
  • Abolishing federal tax on the first $15,000 earned
  • Cutting federal tax to 15 per cent on income between $15,001 and $100,000
  • Imposing a 25 per cent tax rate on income above $100,000

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