2021 Federal Election: It’s time for seniors’ concerns to come out from the shadows
As rumours of a federal election build, Réseau FADOQ unveils its election platform...
As rumours of a federal election build, Réseau FADOQ unveils its election platform and demands that seniors issues be front and centre.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many seniors hard in their daily lives, exposing shortcomings in our society’s treatment of its elders. Concrete actions must be taken quickly to ensure that their concerns are heard and not shelved. We are advocating for a change in the perception of the political class concerning seniors’ issues,” says Gisèle Tassé-Goodman, president of Réseau FADOQ.
The election platform of the country’s largest seniors’ organization proposes concrete solutions to pressing needs in four areas: support for the most disadvantaged, retirement plans and experienced workers, health transfers, and informal caregivers.
Réseau FADOQ reiterates its demand for these imperative changes: increase Old Age Security benefits by 10% starting at age 65 and increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $50 per month per senior.
“If our policy makers are not more responsive to the necessity of enhancing this financial support, the entire social safety net for seniors will be significantly affected. In the context of Canada’s rapidly aging population, this is of great concern,” states Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
Financial insecurity is pervasive among seniors, starting at age 65. Currently, a person receiving only Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits has an annual income of $18,746, which does not even reach Canada’s official poverty line of approximately $21,000 in the Montreal area.
Réseau FADOQ has been pressing the federal government to implement stronger protections of pension funds. This means amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to give pension fund deficits the same priority as secured creditors and banks.
“Workers are not responsible for the accumulated deficits, so they should not be collateral victims when their employers go bankrupt. It is unfortunate that a pension plan deficit is considered a debt like any other. Changes in perception and legislation must happen quickly,” affirms Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
Réseau FADOQ is calling for the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to be indexed by 6% annually and for the inclusion of a variable that takes into account the aging of the population.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical needs of provinces and territories across Canada. Over the next decade, the Conference Board estimates that this situation will result in their health care spending increasing by $93 billion.
“Our organization is adamant: the next government must help the provinces absorb the constantly rising costs of our health system. Federal transfers must be more generous if we are to broaden access to care. This demand is even more important in the context of the health crisis,” says Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
Réseau FADOQ is calling for the federal tax credit for informal caregivers to be transformed into a refundable tax credit To protect the jobs of family caregivers, FADOQ urges the government to extend the employment insurance benefit period to a maximum of 52 weeks.
“Being a caregiver means a considerable loss of income. It is estimated that a quarter of the Quebec population acts as caregivers on a weekly basis. We need to do a better job of helping these people who fill the resource gap in our health care system,” says Tassé-Goodman.