Waterloo Chapter: Seniors’ issues expected to draw more attention as election nears

Click here to read ‘Seniors’ issues expected to draw more attention as election nears‘ – CTV Kitchener, September 4, 2015.

Through the first month of the federal election campaign, headlines have been dominated with stories about a wide variety of subjects – including, in recent days, Syrian refugees.

One topic that hasn’t been discussed, though it often is around election time, is seniors’ issues.

Barry Kay, a political scientist at Wilfrid Laurier University, says there’s one key reason why seniors are typically a top-of-mind constituency for political candidates.

“What makes seniors particularly important is that they turn out to vote at much higher rates than any other age group,” he said in an interview.

So if that’s the case, why aren’t politicians talking more about the retirement age, health care funding and other issues affecting that demographic?

“It’s too important to mention in the first month,” Kay said.

“There’s no question in my mind that health care will be a big discussion item.”

Indeed, as the Oct. 19 election date draws closer, Kay expects to see seniors’ issues given an increased focus by all major parties.

One sign of that turnaround may have come Thursday night, when an overflow crowd filled a room in uptown Waterloo for a candidates’ forum organized by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

Among those in the crowd was Don Brown, who mentioned health care and pension reform as two issues that could sway his vote.

“If they could put some more into the pensions, it would be nice – but first we’ve got to find out where they’re going to get it from,” he said.

All four major parties have already laid out some promises geared toward seniors, including the following:

Conservatives

  • A tax break on membership fees for organizations like the Kiwanis Club and Royal Canadian Legion
  • Making the temporary home renovation tax credit into a permanent program

NDP

  • Meet with premiers to discuss Canada Pension Plan expansion
  • Reverse a planned reduction in the rate of increase in provincial health transfers
  • Increase the guaranteed income supplement for the poorest seniors by $400 million
  • Return the age of eligibility for old age security back to 65 from 67

Liberals

  • Make employment insurance compassionate care benefits available to anyone caring for a seriously ill family member and make the program more flexible by allowing the six-month benefit to be claimed in blocks of time over a year-long period.

Greens

  • Introduce a national seniors strategy, which would include a guaranteed livable income, a national pharmacare program, a national dementia strategy, and increases to the Canada Health Transfer to account for the age of a province’s population.
  • Restore door-to-door mail delivery across the country and have Canada Post make up its budget shortfall by getting into insurance and banking services.

 

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