This message is for the thousands of seniors aged 65 to 74 who were hit hard by the measures announced in the federal budget on April 19 and who received Minister Chrystia Freeland’s budget announcement as an insult.
Many of you have shared your rage with Réseau FADOQ concerning the federal government’s decision to both increase Old Age Security benefits by 10% and make a one-time payment of $500 in August—but only for people aged 75 and over.
You have confided in us. You have expressed your anger and indignation at the Liberal government’s lack of consideration for you in terms of substantial and sustainable financial assistance. You have described to us the heavy financial burden that many of you carry alone, a situation that has only worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. You have told us of your distress at having to choose between buying food or medicine.
We share your anger, incomprehension and sense of injustice. The Trudeau government has decided to create two categories of seniors, with only a vague explanation of the reasoning behind this decision. Its premise should have been inclusive: if we want to make things better, then let’s do it for everyone who is entitled to Old Age Security, starting at age 65, without discrimination based on age, as is now the case.
This is what we tried to explain to the federal Minister of Seniors, Deb Schulte, and her Parliamentary Assistant, Stéphane Lauzon, the day after the budget was tabled. This is what we argued before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on April 22. The damage caused by dividing seniors into two categories would be considerable and must be rectified as soon as possible.
Réseau FADOQ has noted that many 65-year-olds have just as much difficulty making ends meet as 75-year-olds, contrary to what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
People whose only source of income is Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement receive less than $19,000 annually, an amount that barely reaches the official poverty line established by the Market Basket Measure (MBM), which exceeds $21,000 in the Montreal region. In addition, certain non-discretionary components are excluded from the definition of the MBM basket, such as dental and vision care expenses and medications.
In the immediate term, the Trudeau government must increase Old Age Security by 10% for all those who qualify. It must also increase Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits by $50 per month. Quickly.
It is just not true that financial insecurity begins at age 75. Our organization will not give up on this issue. We are committed to doing everything we can to stop this injustice. Budget after budget, election after election, increased financial support for seniors is at the heart of our demands. This is our main battle, for the benefit of seniors in Québec and Canada.
The Institut de la statistique du Québec forecasts that nearly one in three Quebecers will be seniors in 2066. The 65 and over age group alone will increase by 1.3 million people over the same period.
These numbers are striking. They underline the need for urgent action to implement measures that will help improve seniors’ quality of life. To start with, sustainable, inclusive financial support is essential to ensure that your dignity is no longer violated and prevent all forms of age-based discrimination.