CARP picks on healthcare, income

For Canada’s 50plus population, there are two challenging but important areas. These are healthcare and retirement income. Canada’s Association for the 50plus, CARP, says these areas will be the major focus in an upcoming advocacy campaign.

“There’s so much talk by government and the media about healthcare reform-in terms of user fees, accessibility, rationing, and so on,” says Bill Gleberzon.

He’s CARP’s associate executive director. He and Judy Cutler, director of public relations and communications, are exploring ways to deliver on CARP policy initiatives.

“If change is coming, CARP’s job is to make sure that the needs of older Canadians are not overlooked,” says Gleberzon.

Health review plans
In a process that reviews the Canada Health Act, the document that defines healthcare delivery in this country, CARP will involve key stakeholders from seniors’ organizations, health groups and government in roundtable discussions.

“From these meetings, we’re going to develop recommendations that will improve healthcare for everybody,” explains Gleberzon. “And we want these recommendations to provide ways to sustain the system anmake it stronger.”

The process will look into all aspects of the health system, particularly those that affect 50-plus Canadians. Gleberzon says this includes:

  • The lack of geriatricians in Canada
  • The system’s built-in discrimination toward older patients.

CARP is also providing input to Roy Romanow’s report on healthcare reform, which is being prepared for the federal government.

Retirement income improvements
According to Judy Cutler, the need to improve Canada’s retirement income system is also vitally important.

“There’s a growing wealth gap between haves and have-nots among retired Canadians,” she warns. “Look at the food banks. Many are reporting that more and more older people are turning to them for help.”

Cutler notes that the cost of everything-from gas to groceries-is constantly on the rise while retirement income remains static.

Next page: CARP’s recommendations

“And our money has to last longer because we’re living longer,” she says. She also points out that many don’t-or can’t-take this into account when planning for retirement.

CARP recommendations
CARP has a number of recommendations which it says would improve the current retirement income situation. Cutler says the organization will pressure government in the upcoming year to make these policy changes:
  • Greater flexibility in RRSP withdrawals.
  • Increased accessibility to LIF (Locked in Fund) assets.
  • Removing clawbacks from Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • Increasing the amount of GIS.
  • Extending a “stop out” provision in the Canada Pension Plan for informal caregivers.
  • Revising the taxable rate of U.S. Social Security.
  • De-freezing U.K. pensions.