Justin Trudeau’s campaign trail led to the national offices of CARP this morning, where the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada unveiled plans to enhance benefits and boost supports for Canadian seniors and caregivers.
Watch ZNews video report below.
During a town hall meeting attended by CARP members, media and other voters within the 45+ demographic, Trudeau outlined several important campaign promises targeted at older Canadians. Starting with a pledge to reverse the eligibility age of Old Age Security to 65, Trudeau also promised to:
- Boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) by 10% to provide almost $1000/year more per GIS recipient – aimed especially at helping low-income seniors who live alone
- Set a new seniors’ price index to ensure that OAS and GIS benefits keep up with rising costs
- Enhance the CPP
- Extend the flexibility of compassionate care leave for caregivers
- Invest in building more affordable housing including seniors’ residences
- Not cancel pension income splitting for seniors
Regarding enhancing the CPP, Trudeau explained, “This is something that experts and provincial leaders have been calling on for years, but Stephen Harper has outright rejected every attempt to strengthen the CPP.”
Trudeau told the town hall audience that the Liberals would begin talks with the provinces on how to improve the pension system within three months of taking office. Audience members were also able to pose their own questions to Trudeau after his announcement.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has also previously stated that his party would roll back OAS eligibility to 65. Additionally, during a campaign stop in Vancouver on Sept. 13, Mulcair promised a 1.8 billion spend over four years to help the provinces bolster care for seniors if the NDP forms government.
During the gathering, Trudeau acknowledged that Canada is in deficit but pointed out that bolstering the country’s infrastructure is of highest concern. “It is the infrastructure deficit that is so concerning to so many people. That’s what’s slowing down our growth,” he said.
However, a report released by the federal government today shows a $1.9 billion surplus, bringing Canada back into a balanced budget a year ahead of expectations. This is news that changes the current landscape as the party leaders prepare for this Thursday’s debate focusing on the economy.
CARP has invited all the major federal party leaders to present their policies on issues that particularly affect voters 45+. Trudeau was the first party leader to accept the invitation and address this sector of the voters directly.
UPDATE (15.09.15): The Conservative Party of Canada has just outlined its own new plans for increased benefits for seniors should they be re-elected. Stephen Harper has promised a new $2000 Single Seniors Tax Credit for single and widowed seniors who have pensions. This means that a single senior with pension income would receive up to $600 a year.
“We know that single and widowed seniors can face unique financial challenges,” Prime Minister Harper said. “This new Single Seniors Tax Credit is an affordable and targeted way to provide vulnerable seniors with added tax relief.”
This targeted form of tax relief would be welcomed by single or widowed seniors and CARP views it as a potentially equalizing measure. “This new tax relief will bring fairness for single seniors. Some of our members have told us that because they are single they are unable to get tax relief by splitting their pension income for tax purposes like their married friends. Single seniors, usually women, will welcome this news, especially those who are caring for a dependent such as an adult child or parent.” Susan Eng, Executive VP of CARP.
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