CARP has advocated that the first $5,000 be exempt. To further assist low income seniors, CARP has advocated for an increase in the GIS and an increase in the eligibility threshold for GIS to meet the real cost of living.
• Income Tax Relief for Low Income Canadians
Supporting the Labour Market Adjustment of Older Workers
• Extension of The Older Workers Targeted Initiative (TIOW) to 2012.
The TIOW is a federal-provincial employment program established in 2006 for 2 years that provides a range of employment activities for unemployed older workers who live in vulnerable communities – typically, single industry towns, and helps them stay in the workforce with retraining, skills upgrading and assistance to find employment.
Budget 2008 provides an additional $90 million over three years to extend the TIOW until March 2012.
However, this policy should be extended to all older workers at risk of being unemployable and not just in vulnerable communities.
• Commitment to respond to the Report of The Expert Panel on Older Workers this year
A major element of the report is the call for the elimination of mandatory retirement in federally regulated industries such as communication, transportation, and banking. CARP successfully pressed for the removal of mandatory retirement in Ontario, which followed the example of Alberta and Quebec. This is an issue of the right to work subject only to the ability to perform the job.
• Improved Management and Governance of Employment Insurance
The creation of the new, independent Crown corporation, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) is intended to ensure that EI premiums are used exclusively for the EI program and that premium rates that are no higher than required to pay for the EI program. The expectation is that this will lower premium rates.
The most important feature is that there will be a separate bank account. Any annual EI surpluses going forward will be held and invested until they are needed for EI program costs. The CEIFB will set rates and maintain rate stability, a $2 billion cash reserve will be established and future surpluses will be used to reduce premiums.
CARP asked that a designated EI fund be established for unpaid family caregivers who leave work or reduce the hours of work to provide eldercare. With improved management of the EI fund, specific programs can be introduced to better address the specifics needs of the workforce.
The current surplus which measures over $50 billion could have been used to introduce such programs. Transferring only $2 billion in the dedicated EI fund raises the question about whether this will be possible. The full surplus belongs to Canadians workers who contributed EI and is not government money. The entire surplus should be transferred!
• Greater Protection With the Creation of An Expert Panel on Securities Regulation
This Panel will focus on fraud and common securities regulations and will work with the provinces towards a common securities regulator.
The goal is to advise the federal government on ways to enhance the effectiveness, content and structure of securities regulations with greater transparency and regulation to investors throughout Canada.