The Saanich News asked the candidates in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke the question: What would your party do to ensure Canada’s seniors are able to live comfortably in their retirement?
Frances Litman – Green Party
Over 600,000 seniors live in poverty. The Green Party would introduce a Guaranteed Livable Income that ensures that Canadians of all ages have the means to live in dignity with a roof over their head and food on the table. This will save money through better health outcomes and reduced crime rates as well as improving our quality of life.
Our National Pharmacare Program will provide seniors with affordable access to the medicines that they need. By expanding and co-ordinating the patchwork of public and private schemes, and bulk purchasing of generic drugs, Canadians could save up to $11 billion annually.
Ninety per cent of seniors deal with at least one chronic disease. Treating those diseases amounts to 60 per cent of all senior health care costs. But often those in need of long-term care end up in emergency rooms, which are not designed to meet their needs and have high costs. Greens support an Aging in Place approach which supports seniors with homecare that enables them to stay at home, in their community, safely and comfortably.
David Merner – Liberals
A Liberal government will reverse Conservative cuts and provide Canadians with a more secure retirement.
We will restore the eligibility age for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 65, putting an average of $13,000 annually into the pockets of the lowest income Canadians as they become seniors.
We will increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single, lower income seniors by 10 per cent, providing up to $920 more to Canada’s 1.25 million lowest income seniors, including 900,000 single women.
OAS and GIS will be indexed to a new, more accurate and more generous Seniors Price Index of goods most commonly purchased by seniors. In periods when the Consumer Price Index grows faster than the Seniors Price Index, the traditional Consumer Price Index will be used.
We will continue to allow income splitting for seniors.
We will work with the provinces and territories, workers, employers and retiree organizations to enhance the Canada Pension Plan and make it more generous at lower cost.
Liberals support voluntary deferral of CPP and OAS pensions until age 70 in return for higher pensions. We also support raising the age for mandatory withdrawal from RRSPs.
Randall Garrison – NDP
Everyone deserves to retire with dignity. But nearly one-third of working Canadians will face a steep drop in their standard of living when they retire, and seven out of 10 of us don’t have a workplace pension plan.
Instead of strengthening public pensions, Stephen Harper raised the age of retirement to 67 and refused calls from the country’s premiers to bolster the CCP/QPP. And just like the last Liberal government, the Conservatives have done nothing to protect private pensions when companies go bankrupt. The NDP is committed to restoring the retirement age to 65, so people can retire on time. We will also boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement and expand the Canada pension plan so people have enough money to retire comfortably.
I think it is also important to have affordable options, so the NDP has committed to invest in affordable housing that meets seniors’ needs if we are elected government.
Shari Lukens – Conservative
Canada’s seniors have saved and worked their entire lives, and I believe they know best how to make financial decisions about their futures and their retirement.
Seniors at all income levels are benefitting from tax cuts and enhanced benefits introduced by the Conservative government. For example, tax-free savings accounts have provided 2.7 million seniors with a secure and flexible savings option that protects their money from being eroded by taxes; pension income splitting is providing significant tax relief to over one million senior couples; increases to Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits are helping Canada’s most vulnerable seniors; and increases to the Age Credit and the Pension Income Credit are providing significant tax relief to eligible seniors.
As a result of these measures, about 400,000 seniors have been removed from the tax rolls completely.
A re-elected Conservative government will establish a $2,000 Single Seniors Tax Credit that will extend additional annual tax relief to nearly 1.6 million single and widowed seniors in Canada who have pension income. When combined with the existing $2,000 Pension Income Credit that is claimed by 4.6 million seniors already, this new measure will double the tax relief available to single seniors annually, beginning in January 2017.