Election 2008: ‘It’s the Zoomers, Stupid!’

As Lyndon Johnson once said, “An important talent for any politician
is the ability to count.”

Are they counting in Canada? The 14.5 million Canadian Zoomers (age 45-plus)
cast 8.9 million votes in the 2004 election, representing over 62 per cent of
all the votes cast.

“Zoomers are the most politically engaged Canadians,” said Susan Eng, CARP’s
vice president of Advocacy at a news conference. “A full 70 per cent of eligible
voters in this age group cast their ballots in the 2004 election… Zoomers
own the ballot box.”

Yet — despite these overwhelming numbers — all the political parties
are studiously ignoring this vote-rich demographic segment, and the issues that
matter the most to them, Eng said.

The proof can be seen on the websites of the parties. At the news conference,
CARP presented screen shots from all the party websites. There were no references
to Baby Boomers, except in the context of retirement.

“Most of the references were to ‘seniors,'” said David
Cravit, executive vice president of ZoomerMedia, who also spoke at the news
conference. “And the topics never varied: poverty, vulnerability, decline,
helplessness. These issues are certainly critical — but they are not the only
outcomes of aging. The picture painted by the parties is paternalistic, condescending
— and vastly incomplete.”

It is something that CARP intends to change.

“Zoomers continue to live dynamic lives and they have a vitally important
role to play,” Eng said. “We will be ramping up our efforts to get
this message across. And we think that politicians will want to know what we’re

Who will be the party for Zoomers? — 5 key priorities to attract
the Zoomer vote

So what do Zoomers want? Eng outlined the top five priority areas of policy
that CARP will challenge politicians to address.

1. Improved Health Care. This means moving forward on the Accord on
Health Care Renewal by demanding wait-times guarantees from the provinces in
exchange for federal health dollars, setting national standards and introducing
a national pharmacare program.

2. Facilitate aging at home by recognizing the five million Canadians
who care for loved ones at home who need help. Support for family caregivers
could come from:

– Financial support through a refundable tax credit or allowance, better Employment
Insurance coverage and improved pension plan provisions;

– Job security by making sure their jobs are still there when they get back
to work;

– Recognition by the formal health care system for the important role performed
by family caregivers.

3. Eliminate mandatory retirement. Mandatory retirement is unfair,
so it needs to be eliminated once and for all. In uncertain economic times,
Canada needs the skills and experience of every worker who can contribute to
our social and economic well-being. “And frankly, telling someone that
they must stop working at age 65 is the definition of age discrimination,”
Eng says.

4. Better planning for retirement security. Many Canadians are at
risk of outliving their money. CARP calls for government to introduce a universal
supplementary pension plan for the almost one in three Canadians who have no
retirement savings or access to private pensions and substantially increase
the annual adjustments to OAS, CPP, and GIS for fixed and low income Canadians

5. Support older workers by implementing the recommendations of the
December 2007 Expert Panel on Older Workers which called for a comprehensive
strategy that included training, anti-ageism in the workplace and phased retirement.

Read the full Press Release here.

CARP plans to challenge the political parties to respond to these issues by
issuing a questionnaire to all parties. The answers will be posted on www.carp.ca
and in CARPAction Online.

The association will also coordinate action through its local chapters and
through coalitions and affiliations with groups like the Canadian Caregiver
Coalition and the Retired Teachers of Ontario/Canada. (Visit carp.ca
to view the news conference live and to participate in online surveys and polls.)

Zoomers: Quick Facts

Contrary to what some may think in the marketplace or political arena, Zoomers
are active, engaged and open to new ideas. Consider this:

– 8.5 million Zoomers say they’re excited by new technologies

– 7 million Zoomers personally donated to a charity last year

– 7 million Zoomers use a cell phone

– 3.7 million Zoomers have done volunteer work in the past 2 years

– 3.7 million Zoomers are very concerned about the environment

– 3 million Zoomers like to be informed about new products and services

– 1.5 million Zoomers belong to a fitness club

– 1 million Zoomers spend 2 or more hours a day on the internet

– 1 million Zoomers wrote a letter to a public official in the past 2 years

Watch CARP’s complete election coverage on www.carp.ca