One of the most important aspects of Budget 2011, recently passed by Parliament, was our continuing efforts to support seniors and help them meet their needs.
This year, Canadians will receive close to $72 billion in benefits through the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
Over the years, the GIS has contributed significantly to reducing poverty among Canadian seniors. In fact, the incidence of poverty among seniors in Canada has dropped from a rate of 21 percent in 1980 to 5.2 percent in 2009.
The Government of Canada strives to ensure that this positive trend continues.
This is why our government introduced new measures through Budget 2011 to improve the financial security of older Canadians, expand their opportunities and enhance their quality of life.
Beginning this month (July), seniors with little or no income other than the Old Age Security and the GIS will receive additional benefits up to $600 for single seniors and up to $840 for couples per year — the most significant increase for the lowest-income seniors in over 25 years.
This will improve the financial security of more than 680,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable seniors, many of whom are women.
The Government also wants to support seniors in staying active and involved in their communities. For this reason, they are building on the success of the very popular New Horizons for Seniors Program by providing an additional $10 million over two years.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has taken action on many issues important to seniors including:
-providing Canadians with close to $72 billion this year through Canada’s public pension system;
-providing $2.3 billion annually in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting and increasing the Age Credit;
-providing $400 million over two years under Budget 2009 for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors;
-supporting positive and active aging through the collaborative Age Friendly Communities Initiative, Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults, and falls prevention initiatives;
-appointing a Minister of State (Seniors)—someone who can bring the concerns of older Canadians to the Cabinet table and stand up on their behalf;
-establishing October 1st as National Seniors Day to recognize the significant and ongoing contributions seniors make to families, communities, workplaces and society;
-creating the National Seniors Council in 2007 to provide advice to the federal government on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors; and
-investing $13 million over three years in support of the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative (FEAI), which successfully concluded on March 31, 2011. Building on the momentum created through the FEAI, which featured an awareness campaign, the Government of Canada remains active in addressing elder abuse through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
As seniors enjoy the opportunities and meet the challenges that come with getting older, the Government of Canada will continue to do its part.
A couple of deadlines are fast approaching:
The New Horizons for Seniors Program is currently accepting applications for community-based projects until September 16, 2011. The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal Grants and Contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities. For all relevant information please go to: www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/community_partnerships/seniors/nhsp/brochure.shtml
And even though it seems that we just completed the annual budgetary process, the Standing Committee on Finance is asking taxpayers to weigh in on next year’s federal budget. If you wish to participate, submissions can be made in person or in writing. The deadlines are July 29th to apply to appear in-person and August 12 to submit a written submission. If you have an interest, please contact the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance at:
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6
Tel.: 613-992-9753 Fax: 613-996-1626 E-mail: FINA@parl.gc.ca
I am also happy to hear directly from you on this or any other matter related to the federal government. Please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com . If you wish to meet in person, please call my office and arrange a meeting with Linda at 470-5075.
Ron Cannan is MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.