February 26, 2008 – Earlier today at a special budget “lockup” session on Parliament Hill, CARP was part of a group of guests invited by the Deputy Minister of Finance to preview budget 2008 before it was tabled in the House of Commons.
Apart from the fact that there was very little on health, CARP commends the Harper Government for listening to many of its recommendations over the years and taking steps in the right direction for 50plus Canadians with the following:
• $3,500 income exemption band without any clawback of GIS
• Choices for federally regulated Locked-In Funds/ Life Income Funds (LIFS) – holders, such as, for those 55 years or older, conversion of holdings up to $22,450 into to a tax deferred saving vehicle as well as a one time conversion of up to 50% of the principal into a tax deferred savings vehicle with no maximum withdrawal limits – also the option to unlock up to $22,450 for those with financial hardship (e.g. low income, high disability, or medical related costs).
• A promise to respond to the Report of The Expert Panel on Older Workers this year
• Improved management and governance of Employment Insurance (EI) through the creation of a Canadian Employment Insurance Financing Board which will be an independent Crown Corporation with legislative structure for EI premiums to be dedicated exclusively to EI
• A Securities Expert Panel to focus on protection, fraud and common securities regulations as well as a commitment to work with the provinces towards a common securities regulator
• Income Tax relief for low income Canadians with incomes under $37,885 – removing an estimated 700,000 Canadians from the tax rolls
• Extension of the Veterans Independent Program (VIP) to expand support to survivors of veterans
• Funding to the Mental Health Commission of Canada for demonstration projects in selected communities across the country in order to develop best practices in areas such as mental health and substance abuse as well as mental health and homelessness
• Expanded list of eligible expenses under the Medical Expenses Tax Credit
• GST/HST exemption to help people cope with disabilities and disorders, for example, to purchase medical devices
• Funding for the reduction of greenhouse gas omissions
• Funding for an awareness campaign for seniors to recognize elder abuse
CARP also welcomes the introduction of the following:
• A “Tax free account” of up to $5,000 deposit per year without resulting in clawbacks, for example, in GIS and without tax on withdrawals
• Extension of The Older Workers Targeted Initiative to 2012.
CARP would like to have seen more funding for health initiatives such as an improved National Homecare Program that includes coverage for chronic and community care as well as support for unpaid family caregivers, such as for respite. Also, greater initiative must be taken by the federal government to collaborate with the provinces and territories to enhance human resources as a means to reduce wait times.
CARP will continue working with the Government and Opposition Parties to ensure that appropriate health care is available and accessible to all Canadians when and where they need it.