Seniors Expect and Deserve More

TORONTO May 28, 2008: CARP, Canada’s Association for the Fifty Plus, is committed to enhancing the quality of life for all Canadians as we age and advocates for positive social change in the areas of health, financial security and human rights.

We represent 350,000 members across the country of whom 210,000 reside in Ontario.

There are 11.2 million 50+ Canadians and 4.3 million of them live in Ontario. We are among the most educated and most politically engaged Canadians.

There are 4.6 million seniors [65+] across Canada and 1.8 million live in Ontario.

Seniors have worked all their lives to ensure that there was a health care and social welfare system that will be there for them and anyone who needs it.

As Ontario is set to mark Seniors’ Month in June, it is a good time to take stock of what all levels of government are doing to improve the quality of life for seniors.

Financial Security – Bill 78

The ever increasing cost of living challenges the financial security of Ontario’s seniors. We have advocated for increases to income supplement programs and affordable housing.

We have heard from many of those who own their own homes but live on fixed income and have been unable to keep up with the rapid pace of massive increases in property taxes. Too often, these seniors are faced with the prospect of being forced out of their homes because they can no longer afford the property tax burden.

CARP believes there is a fundamental need to address the unfairness and unaccountability of the MPAC assessment system. However, low-income seniors need assistance now. And the grants of $250 – $500 proposed in the recent Budget offer some relief but it is not enough. Until the government fixes the property assessment process, Bill 78 offers real relief to beleaguered seniors.

However, while we support the overall purpose of Bill 78, CARP would propose amendments at the Committee stage to lower the proposed threshold of property taxes and consideration of a partial rather than full deferral of property taxes payable.

Health care

In our No More Waiting campaign, CARP advocated for guaranteed wait times, better drug coverage and better access to diagnostic services.

The recent budget announced some important measures but the problems remain. Funding was announced for more MRIs but the Ministry resolutely refuses to accept that PET scans are a vital diagnostic tool.

The Ontario Ombudsman has taken up the issue. That is welcome but public health care policy should not have to depend on the intervention of the Ombudsman.

And when people try to access medical care outside of the country under OHIP’s own program, they are caught in red tape. A number of people who sought urgent care but did not get prior approval had their reimbursement claims rejected even though they would have been covered for those services if they had sent in the forms first.

But most of them did not even know they had to do that; they were focused on getting the care they needed. CARP will be launching a campaign to get reimbursement for those caught in the red tape, seek improvements to prior approval process and help with the public awareness of the regulations.