November 2, 2012 –The CARP Annual General Meeting has become a mandatory destination for Canada’s political leaders. This year was no different, with Thomas Mulcair, leader of the Official Opposition NDP, engaging CARP chairs representing 55 chapters across Canada in a town hall style meeting on the issues that matter most to older Canadians. CARP Chapter Chairs didn’t waste the opportunity to ask Mr. Mulcair tough questions on issues ranging from pensions and OAS to healthcare and caregivers.
“The vast majority of CARP members are opposed to raising the age for OAS from 65 to 67, although most of us are not going to be affected by the change personally. It is now law,” said one chapter chair, asking Thomas Mulcair, “What will you do?” Mulcair responded by reiterating his commitment to reversing OAS changes if elected to form government in the 2015 Federal Election.
At many points in the hour long discussion and Q&A, Mulcair seemed to be reading directly from the CARP playbook, showing that politicians don’t take CARP members or our positions lightly.
In response to a question about the ongoing struggles of 300,000 Canadian seniors who live in poverty, Mulcair said that the NDP “honestly believe that in a country as wealthy as Canada it is absolutely inexcusable to have hundreds of thousands of seniors living below the poverty line…” Adding that reversing the OAS changes and increasing GIS for lower income seniors would be a priority for his government.
When asked about pension reform, Mulcair told the audience that the NDP have longed called for a doubling of the CPP as the surest way to ensure retirement security for all Canadians. But, he added that the federal government needs to do more to protect current pensions right now. “We’re one of the only countries that doesn’t protect pensions in the case of bankruptcy or insolvency,” said Mulcair. “That’s entirely unacceptable.”
Increasingly, CARP research and advocacy is making inroads with politicians of all stripes and parties. This was the third consecutive year in which a leading politician has addressed CARP chapter chairs and the media at the CARP AGM. The previous two years CARP members in attendance heard from Dwight Duncan, Ontario Liberal Minister of Finance and Alice Wong, Federal Conservative Minister for Seniors.
Even with an election more than two years away, politicians understand that the road to government goes through engaged older Canadians. And for anyone in attendance at last week’s CARP AGM witnessed a room full of CARP members engaging and pushing the leader of the Official Opposition on the issues that matter to all older Canadians.
Check back here next week for a video of the full one hour Town Hall session with CARP Chapter Chairs from Victoria to St John’s and point in between