Brampton Chapter: Seniors’ lives not all ‘rosy’ as National Seniors Day is celebrated

Click here to read ‘Seniors’ lives not all ‘rosy’ as National Seniors Day is celebrated’  by Pam Douglas– Brampton Guardian, October 1, 2015

The CARP flag was raised at Brampton City Hall Thursday morning as some of the city’s 55,000 seniors gathered to celebrate National Seniors Day, and International Day of the Older Person.

Peter Howarth, chair of Brampton’s chapter of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons), told the group in Ken Whillans Square that, for the first time, Canada has more seniors than children under 14 years of age.

And those seniors are active and engaged, he said.

“Seniors are giving their time, energy and talents for critical and much-needed help,” Howarth noted. “Where would we be without them? And to all of them, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Those seniors are also looking for some commitments from all levels of government to address their concerns, Howarth said, referring to a recent survey sent to candidates in the upcoming federal election.

Seniors vote, more than any other demographic, Howarth said, and although retirement should be a time to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of labour, it isn’t always like that.

“All is not rosy in seniors land,” he said. “The Canadian Pension Plan does not provide the income to ensure a comfortable, dignified lifestyle in retirement.”

There are 600,000 seniors in Canada who live at or below the poverty line, he noted, and 12 million working Canadians do not have a workplace pension. Statistics reveal those Canadians are also not saving for retirement, either.

“So pensions are a huge issue,” he said.

So is a national pharmacare program.

Howarth said a recent survey of CARP members revealed 10 per cent of them did not take prescribed medication because they could not afford them.

From $5.5  to $11.4 billion a year would be saved by individuals and companies if there was a national pharmacare program, he said.

A national seniors health care strategy is also needed to deal with issues such as inadequate home care, individual wait times in hospitals for specialist appointments and surgeries, and mandatory withdrawals from RRIFs.

Those are some of the many issues seniors are facing, he said.

“Needless to say the life of a retired senior in Canada may not be as easy and ideal as many would think.”

Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey spoke to the crowd about the contributions made by Brampton seniors.

“Today is a day to reflect, and celebrate, and most important, appreciate the many contributions our Brampton seniors make to the community on a daily basis,” she said. “Brampton seniors are generous with their time, and they continue to give back to our community.”

We are all living longer thanks to advances in medicine, nutrition and health care, she said.

“Now we’re living longer, our challenge is to ensure that we also are living better. One of my future goals as mayor is to make sure Brampton the best city in which to be a senior. A city where seniors can live active, healthy and rewarding lives.”

Jeffrey said the city will continue to expand its trails, its safe walking areas, promote a healthy lifestyle and make city recreation facilities more accessible and more affordable for seniors.

“The fact is, the things we want for ourselves and our loved ones later in life never really changes – security, health, happiness and the chance to remain engaged.”

She also pointed out that, next year, the city will host the Canada 55 Plus Games.

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