Steps in the Right Direction for Seniors

Many Seniors across the country spoke out – and Ottawa acknowledged them as a significant sector of Canadian society in its latest budget. This is an important step in the right direction and CARP applauds the government for listening.

A Seniors Secretariat has been on CARP’s advocacy agenda for a long time and therefore it is good news indeed that one is now being created. This will go a long way in developing integrated national policies with the participation of seniors. CARP looks forward to collaborating with the Secretariat to put promised initiatives into action for the benefit of seniors across the country.

And, hopefully, the Secretariat will lead to the establishment of a federal Minister for Seniors – something that CARP has been promoting to the Prime Minister.

Other items in the budget welcomed by CARP include the long overdue Guaranteed Income Supplement increase. However, waiting until 2006 for the first installment is unfortunate for those eking out an existence. CARP will be monitoring the impact of the modest increase on the quality of life of individual recipients.

CARP commends Ottawa for giving holders of Locked In Funds (LIFs) a choice between purching an Annuity or, in effect, continuing a LIF at age 80. Also, the limit on foreign investments in RRSP has been extended.

It is estimated that 240,000 seniors could be removed from the tax rolls due to proposed reform of taxable income.

Along with kudos for the federal government, CARP does have some concerns about the 2005 budget. For example, although family caregivers will certainly benefit from increased tax credits, this won’t mean much to those without income. And, EI for caregivers is still too limited. As discussed in a meeting with the Bloc (see page one), also missing is the extension of the Canada Pension Plan Drop Out Provision to include family caregivers who leave work to care for loved ones at home.

It is disconcerting to CARP to note Ottawa’s perspective that the retirement of boomers could be a “drag” on the growth of the Canadian standard of living. Studies show this isn’t the case, and CARP urges a more realistic approach to the aging population to avoid policies motivated by panic and ageism.