How candidates say they’d make seniors’ lives more affordable
By Jenn Watt
Candidates to represent Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock in the federal election say their parties have plans to reduce financial pressure for seniors.
Last week, the Haliburton Echo asked Facebook followers what some of their top concerns were this election. Topics ranged from climate change and addressing disparities in Indigenous communities to reducing the federal deficit and helping businesses in rural communities. Several responses addressed seniors, with commenters saying Old Age Security doesn’t provide enough to live on, there is not enough affordable housing, pension reform is needed and that some seniors cannot afford the essentials.
Conservative candidate and incumbent Jamie Schmale said the Liberals’ carbon tax has made gas, home heating and groceries more costly.
“Seniors built this country we enjoy today – and they deserve much better than to be made to choose between heating their home or buying groceries,” he said via email. “Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives have a plan to make life more affordable for our seniors. We will remove the carbon tax, take the GST off of home heating, provide a universal tax cut that also applies to pension income, and we will increase the Age Credit. Specifically, a Conservative government will increase the Age Credit by $1,000 per year, per senior. Geared to low-to-middle income seniors, individuals aged 65 and over earning up to $37,790 would receive up to $150 more per year.”
“I believe that we must do better for our seniors. We need to make it easier for them not just to get by, but to get ahead.”
Liberal candidate Judi Forbes pointed to cuts implemented by the Conservative government prior to the Liberal win in 2015 and noted Liberal initiatives over the last four years. She said the Liberals have increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement by up to $947, established a Minister for Seniors and the first National Dementia strategy, provided $11 billion for better home care and mental health care, and established a national housing strategy to decrease homelessness for 500,000 Canadians, including seniors.
Forbes said that a Liberal government would eliminate taxes on their first $15,000 of income, increase Old Age Security by an extra $729 per year, indexed to inflation, increase the CPP survivor’s benefit by 25 per cent – up to $2,080, invest $6 billion to improve access to primary health care and mental health services and take the next steps toward universal pharmacare, and provide access to high-speed internet and reduce cellphone costs by 25 per cent.
NDP candidate Barbara Doyle said her party would address the issue through health care, housing, transportation and adjustments to government payouts. “By having universal pharmacare, and adding dental, and then vision and hearing care, it will create a significant change in monthly costs,” she said.
More affordable housing would also help seniors, she said, as it would increase supply locally, helping to drive prices down. The NDP is also committed to a green transportation system, including making more public transit available in rural Canada. She said they would work toward a free public transit system, which would benefit seniors as well as the rest of society.
Doyle addressed payments seniors receive: “Our CPP is not high enough. We need to increase the rates, improve the CPP pension system, but also the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Old Age Security, the rates need to be increased.” She said the NDP would also move to protect private pensions.
Green Party candidate Elizabeth Fraser said affordability in retirement years can be made better with a guaranteed income and more affordable services.
“The Green Party will introduce a Guaranteed Livable Income, which will ensure no Canadian falls below a certain standard of living,” she said. “We will also ensure that the Canada Pension Plan is able to adapt to the changing needs of seniors by gradually increasing the income replacement rate from its current 25 per cent to 50 per cent. We will protect private pensions and ensure that pensioners are moved up in the hierarchy during company insolvency. We can also make seniors’ lives more affordable by implementing universal pharmacare, which includes a bulk buyer program making prescriptions more affordable, more accessible public transportation, and more affordable housing with services in place to allow seniors to live at home longer.”
People’s Party of Canada candidate Gene Balfour said affordability is a top issue this election with concerns including “food prices, affordable housing, high fuel costs, carbon taxes and more.”
To make life more affordable, Balfour said his party would decrease taxes to make more money available to Canadians.
“Canadians can no longer afford the high cost of large, bureaucratic and enormously expensive public institutions that have generated a ‘tax inflation’ of 40 per cent since 1961 (the average Canadian forfeits 53 per cent of income to all forms of taxation compared to 38 per cent in 1961),” he said.
“Food, energy and housing prices have also increased outrageously by another hidden government-imposed cost - ‘red tape inflation.’ Excessive regulations produce compliance expenses that drive up business costs which are always passed on to the consumers.”
The federal election is Monday, Oct. 21. To meet the candidates in person, ask questions and hear what they have to say, be sure to attend the all-candidates meeting at the Pinestone on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.