KENORA – POLITICS – Seniors spent much of their life-shaping Canada into the wonderful country we call home. Their contributions and sacrifices must continue to be recognized and acknowledged through our own daily actions, but also in policy and programming at each level of government. We’ve already made great strides to improve the lives of seniors in the North, but as always, there is still work to be done.
The new Ministry of Seniors was created in the recent federal cabinet shuffle, proving the government’s commitment to improving the lives of seniors and elders in the North and across the nation. Part of Minister Filomena Tassi’s mandate is to better understand the needs of Canadian seniors and ensure that programs and services are developed that respond to Canada’s aging population, which will provide seniors with greater security in retirement and a better quality of life.
Most seniors have spent their lives working to support their family by building a business or a career, and now deserve a good standard of living and a secure retirement. The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) is one way to provide an effective solution, ensuring long-term retirement security for seniors throughout the country. Together with the provinces and territories, improvements have been made to the CPP that will raise the maximum retirement benefit by up to 50% over time. This translates into an increase in the current maximum retirement benefit of more than $7,000 which is helping to close in the financial gaps for seniors in the North and throughout Canada.
Working hand-in-hand with the CPP is the Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Since 2016, GIS payments have increased by up to $947 per year for single recipients which has helped to provide additional financial security and confidence in retirement.
We know how important it is to have these programs available to seniors as soon as possible, so the age of eligibility has been restored from 67 to 65. To ensure that these benefits are easily accessible, we have expanded auto-enrollment to include GIS benefits, ensuring that more Canadians automatically received the benefits to which they are entitled.
The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) supports seniors in a unique and important way. This program encourages seniors to continue playing an active role in society. This year, the Kenora riding has received more than $200,000 for nine New Horizons projects. To date, 3,700 community-based projects and 50 pan-Canadian projects have been approved.
Looking ahead, we are continuing to work with the provinces and territories in order to build a long-term sustainable plan that will better support seniors. This includes working with the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure that Canadians are receiving the benefits they qualify for.
We are also working on a National Poverty Reduction Strategy aimed at reducing poverty, which affects more than three million Canadians, including seniors. These efforts, combined with the work that has already been completed, will help provide seniors in the North with the resources they need to enjoy a secure retirement.
One thing is for certain: Canadians expect their government to put the right policies in place that truly represent the realities of today and tomorrow, whether you are a parent, senior or raising a family. Although we have made good progress, we still have plenty of work to do.