Seniors’ issues are Canadians’ issues. With an aging population, there are now more seniors over the age of retirement than there are people under 15.
I know from speaking directly with residents of Parkdale-High Park, many of whom are seniors themselves, about the critical need for increased and ongoing support for our aging population.
As a son, I want to ensure my mother and father receive the support and access to services they will need as they age, so that they, and all seniors, will have the quality of life they deserve. Our parents, grandparents, and elders have taken care of us for so many years. What we must do is give our seniors the respect they deserve, by ensuring they are able to retire with dignity.
I am proud to stand behind a budget and Government that supports Canadian seniors.
Increased Income Support for Seniors
In Budget 2016, we increased income support for vulnerable seniors. Since then, enhancements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement have resulted in 750,000 single seniors receiving an increase of up to $947 each year. This enhancement is helping to lift 13,000 vulnerable seniors—including 12,000 senior women—out of poverty.
Our Government also brought the Old Age Security (OAS) pension eligibility age back down to 65, after the previous government tried to raise it 67. Restoring the eligibility age gives Canadians more choice and control over their own lives, and the ability to decide when the right time to retire is for them.
To ensure we cover the costs of the vital programs for seniors, we have spent $48.3 billion in elderly benefits, which are comprised of Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance payments to qualifying seniors, as of this year. By 2021-22, we project we will have allocated $63.7 billion to support these programs, or an increase of approximately 5.7% per year — faster than nominal GDP. In calculating the need for investment in our seniors, we have considered both projected consumer price inflation, to which benefits are fully indexed, and an expected increase in the population of eligible recipients.
Expanding Digital Learning Opportunities
Adapting to modern technologies, especially with today’s rapid pace of development and advancement, can be challenging for anyone to keep up with. The world has changed dramatically since our parents and grandparents were our age – especially when it comes to computer technology, the scope of the Internet, and the popularity of social media networks.
Budget 2017 proposes $29.5 million over the next five years for a new Digital Literacy Exchange program. The program will support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills, including how to use the Internet safely and effectively, at pre-existing facilities such as public libraries, refugee housing complexes and seniors’ homes. The program will focus on vulnerable groups such as low-income individuals and families, and seniors.
Budget 2017 will allocate $11 billion in new money over 11 years for our National Housing Strategy. In addition to base investments of $4 billion in housing, an additional approximately $3.2 billion over the next 11 years will go to provinces and territories to support key priorities for affordable housing. These priorities will include the construction of new affordable housing units; the renovation and repair of existing housing; rent subsidies and other measures to make housing more affordable; and other initiatives to support safe, independent living for Canada’s seniors, persons with disabilities and other individuals requiring accessibility modifications.
National Housing Fund
For critical housing issues, we have established a National Housing Fund to prioritize support for vulnerable citizens, including: seniors; Indigenous Peoples; survivors fleeing situations of domestic violence; persons with disabilities; those dealing with mental health and addiction issues; and veterans. Administered through CMHC, this Fund will receive an new investment of $5 billion over the next 11 years.
Home Care + Mental Health
Keeping patients in hospitals has a huge financial impact on the system and is detrimental for patient well-being. The best way for patients to receive care is at home with their loved ones – we know this as a Government and that’s why we’re making investments to improve the lives of seniors in our province, and nationally. Our Government has offered provinces and territories targeted investments of $11 billion over the next 10 years to address home care and mental health needs.
In Ontario, this will mean a new investment of $4.2 Billion over 10 years. Fully, $1.9 billion will go to mental health services, and $2.3 billion to improve homecare in cities across our province.
Home care is particularly significant for Canadian women. Women account for nearly two-thirds of all home care clients. By investing Billions in home care, we are helping improve care for our female senior population.
Everyone’s mental health needs are different. The needs of LGBTQ2 individuals, youth, seniors, minorities, and other groups all differ, and the needs of individuals vary even more. By providing the stable, predictable and long-term funding needed to shorten wait times for mental health services, outcomes for many groups can be improved, including for our seniors.
Transit + Infrastructure
To support the next phase of our ambitious public transit projects, our Government announced in Budget 2017 that we will invest $20.1 billion over 11 years through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories. This funding will make it possible for Canadian communities to build the new urban transit networks and service extensions that will transform the way that Canadians live, move and work.
As of March 8, 2017, 744 public transit projects have been approved, including 214 projects that will make public transit more accessible for people with disabilities and seniors.
Stay tuned for the LAST installment of my Budget 2017 series Monday, April 10! Next up: education + youth.
”I was also pleased to see investments in transit funding, which is definitely more of a provincial municipal area, but so many of our seniors are isolated because we simply don’t have enough transit infrastructure in this country. So happy to see a commitment to them.”
– Wanda Morris, VP Advocacy, CARP
“I was happy about the relief for caregivers, there’s 8 million caregivers across this country, and this is substantial relief for them. Also the government had pledged in their campaign platform, $3 billion for home care funding and now they have actually funded it. Not only did they fund it but doubled it, so that instead of $3 billion over five years, it’s $6 billion over 10. So great news!”
-Wanda Morris, VP Advocacy, CARP
Arif Virani MP for Parkdale-High Park
Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism