All three major provincial parties are actively campaigning for older voters. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – older people vote at much higher rates than any other demographic and are consistently informed on the issues.
CARP members can take some credit for making politicians and election campaigns pay attention. CARP works hard during and between election cycles to make your issues front and centre.
To help you make an informed decision at the polls on June 12 and as a non-partisan organization, we have isolated the parts of each party platform that speak directly to older voters. All the issues included here are taken directly from published campaign platforms and may not reflect issues, statements, and documents released in the media or on the campaign trail.
We’ve organized the platforms by CARP’s main priorities rather than by party, to allow for easier comparison, starting with pension issues, followed by healthcare, home care, caregiving and energy costs. And we have only included issues that are specifically targeted at older Canadians.
1. PENSION REFORM & RETIREMENT INCOME SECURITY
Public sector pension plans:
- Bring government benefits in line with those of the private sector while ensuring that the pensions already earned by government workers will be protected. New government workers will still get pensions, but not the type that guarantees defined and expensive future payments. We will offer the type of coverage that most of those who have pensions in the private sector receive. This will reduce one of the biggest financial risks the government faces.
NDP – No proposal on pension and retirement issues made in official platform.
Secure & predictable income in retirement:
- The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) will pay a secure and predictable income in retirement. The ORPP will require equal contributions from employers and employees of no more than 1.9 per cent of income from each, to a maximum earnings level of $90,000 per year. We will phase in contribution rates over two years.
- The ORPP will be publicly administered at arm’s length from government. We will take advantage of the expertise in our financial services and pensions sectors to make sure the plan is governed well and yields the best possible returns. We will work with other provinces who have expressed an interest in the ORPP and will work to make the ORPP portable across the country. If the federal government agrees to enhance the CPP in the future, the ORPP could be integrated into the CPP at that time.
- We will work aggressively to set up the ORPP so that it can begin on schedule in 2017. In the meantime, in the first year of our mandate, we will introduce legislation to create Pooled Registered Pension Plans, for those who want to take advantage of another savings option on their own.
- Employers offering a comparable workplace pension plan would not be required to enroll. We will consult on how best to help self-employed people achieve a secure retirement future.
A new focus on chronic care:
- Will create chronic care centres in which all of the doctors and nurses caring for people with serious chronic conditions work together to develop comprehensive care plans for those patients.
- For patients with the highest needs, will assign a dedicated care navigator to ensure they get the care they need when they need it, and that all of their sources of care work together. This person will be a front line caregiver such as a nurse
Encourage choice and competition:
- Allow patients receiving home care services like housekeeping and personal support to choose whether to have the government purchase home care for them (which happens today), or whether to use the same money to hire the home care of their choice.
- Expand the role of modern, specialty clinics to provide more services such as dialysis and routine surgeries.
Use evidence to improve results and value:
- Will dramatically enhance patient databases, with full privacy protection, to enable doctors and researchers to identify and improve the treatments that lead to the best health outcomes at the best cost.
Open new 24-hour Family Health Clinics:
- 50 new family health clinics will be built across the province with the capacity to serve at least 250,000 people, cutting the number of Ontarians without access to primary care by 25%.
- Family Health Clinics will give patients an alternative to ERs for after-hours medical needs.
Hire more nurse practitioners to treat and discharge patients in ERs:
- will hire 250 nurse practitioners to get ER patients treated and discharged more quickly, opening up more spaces for those with urgent or complex needs.
Eliminate the waitlist for acute long-term care beds :
- Investment will create 1,400 additional long-term care beds, which will eliminate the entire “crisis” wait list
- Eliminate the wait list of 2,800 Ontarians waiting for other non-nursing care such as physiotherapists, social workers, etc.
- Attract doctors to under-serviced communities by forgiving student debt. This will help bring as many as 250 new physicians to rural communities by forgiving up to $20,000 of debt per year of service.
Providing a primary care guarantee:
- We will guarantee that every Ontarian has access to a primary care provider. We will work with our partners to expand access to primary care, and develop targeted approaches for northern, rural and fast growing communities.
Reducing wait times:
- We will build on our record of success in reducing wait times in five key areas by more than 50 per cent. This second phase of our wait times strategy will focus on referrals to specialists. By better coordinating care and improving access to the right providers, in the right place, at the right time, we will continue to bring down wait times in key areas of health services.
Creating more health links:
- We will create 36 more Health Links, growing to more than 90 province-wide. Health Links help those who have multiple, complex conditions, and provide a personal care coordinator for each patient, so that the burden of managing appointments and sharing information is reduced.
Expanding scopes of practice:
- Build on our expansion of scopes of practice, to ensure that nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals can make their full contribution to the health care system. By allowing providers to use a greater skill set, we will be able to ensure that Ontarians can get the care they need, closer to home.
Advocating for national drug insurance:
- We will continue to push the federal government to come to the table so that we can provide affordable access to medication for all Ontarians, building on the success of the Ontario Drug Benefit and other programs.
Increasing pay for personal support workers (PSWs):
- We will increase quality of care and reduce job turnover by increasing PSW wages by $1.50 an hour in 2014, $1.50 an hour in 2015, and $1 an hour in 2016.
Developing a palliative and end-of-life care strategy:
- We will develop a strategy to help more patients receive their end-of-life care at home. As an immediate step, we will commit to funding 20 more hospices, almost doubling the number of people who will have access to quality end-of-life care, including in rural areas. That translates into 75,000 additional days available to allow people the opportunity to spend their final days in a home-like setting, with the right care. We will also work at the national level to ensure that Canada has a national dialogue on dying with dignity.
Investing in dementia supports:
- Working with partners throughout the system, we will invest in appropriate resources to improve the development of evidence about dementia and Alzheimer disease and their impacts, and will provide appropriate supports for prevention and management of dementia for families and providers. We will invest in 25 new Memory Clinics that will help delay the onset of dementia, and support Ontarians with memory/cognitive impairment to better manage chronic disease and mobility challenges.
Investing in hospital infrastructure:
- We will invest in new hospitals and the renewal of existing hospitals to ensure Ontarians have better access to modern health care facilities. Major projects include: New or expanded hospitals: We will invest more than $11.4 billion over the next 10 years on 40-plus major hospital expansion or redevelopment projects.
- We will invest $700 million over the next 10 years on deferred maintenance for hospitals.
Investing in community health infrastructure:
- We will invest $300 million in new money over the next 10 years in community health infrastructure. Projects include: New and expanded facilities for Community Health Centres, Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-led Clinics, and other facilities.
Making institutions work better together:
- We will keep our focus on Ontarians and patients. We will review Local Health Integration Networks, Community Care Access Centres, and Public Health Units to ensure that we are using financial, health, and human resources in the most effective way.
Making better use of technology:
- Technology, both existing and emerging, is a key enabler of our health care system. We will seek out all opportunities for the effective and sustainable use of technology – including mobile technology and technology in our doctors’ offices and hospitals – to achieve system sustainability and improve outcomes for patients.
Establish a patient ombudsman:
- We will establish a Patient Ombudsman to resolve complaints and concerns and to drive improvements across the health care system.
Capping hospital parking fees:
- We will work with hospitals to cap or cut parking fees for those who must visit the hospital frequently, either due to a medical condition or to regularly visit a loved one.
Move health closer to home:
- Deliver care closer to home by expanding home care and long-term care availability, promoting more types of care in the home.
- Update the scope of practice for pharmacists, nurse practitioners and other professionals, to allow treatment where it is most convenient and beneficial for patients, particularly seniors.
- Eliminate wait times for seniors with a Five Day Home Care guarantee
- We will eliminate the list of 3,300 Ontarians waiting for personal support worker care. These clients will receive approximately two nursing visits and 7.5 hours of personal support per month.
Investing in Home care:
- We will invest more than $750 million in home and community care over three years, including more than $270 million in the first year, to provide better care and bring down wait times.
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVES – No proposal on caregivers issues made in official platform.
Support families caring for the ill or elderly with a Caregiver Tax Credit:
- Anyone who is a primary caregiver for someone needing help with basic functions like bathing, meal preparation, and receiving medical care will receive a credit of $1,275 per year. This credit is fully refundable and is in addition to supports available through other programs.
Supporting family caregivers:
- We will support family caregivers by expanding the right to time off work, respite programs, education and training supports.
5. ENERGY COSTS
- Stop expensive and counterproductive power subsidies,
- Pare down costly and unnecessary bureaucracy,
- Invest in affordable and clean nuclear and hydroelectric energy,
- Import hydro from Quebec and other jurisdictions as required and take advantage of cheap and abundant natural gas.
Will reduce hydro costs by:
- Merging four of Ontario’s hydro agencies;
- Capping hydro CEO salaries; and
- Getting a better price for electricity exports through direct trading.
- At the start of 2016, we will remove the provincial portion of HST from home hydro bills, saving families approximately $120 a year.
- Repeal the debt retirement charge, worth $70 per family per year, meaning that the total savings we are offering to families is nearly $200 annually
- Prevent unfair price increases for natural gas consumers
- Give the Ontario Energy Board enhanced powers to take exceptional impacts on consumers into consideration when evaluating proposed rate increases.
Eliminating the debt retirement charge for residential customers:
- We will introduce legislation to eliminate the debt retirement charge for residential electricity users by the end of 2015, saving the average household $70 a year on its electricity bill.
Lowering Electricity rates:
- Will create the Home Electricity Assistance Program to help make electricity more affordable. Low-income families will be eligible for this new program, which would provide rate relief of up to 10 per cent, saving families up to $17 per month.