On the Eve of the Leaders Debate Parties still ignore the concerns of 64% of their voters – Parties Pay Lip Service on International Day of Older Persons but Fall Short on Substantive Promises says CARP

TORONTO, ON October 1, 2008: None of the major political parties have taken the time to address the issues that concern 64% of their voters according to CARP which sent a questionnaire to them on September 25, 2008 asking that replies be sent in by today, the UN International Day of Older Persons.

“The politicians are quick off the mark to pay lip service to mark the UN’s International Day of Older Persons but if they actually read the Declaration, they would realize that action, not words, is what is expected. The principles of Independence, Participation, Care, Self-Fulfillment and Dignity require specific government action to make a reality”, said Susan Eng, Vice President, Advocacy of CARP.

“A single day of celebration and reflection of the value of seniors does not equate to a commitment from government or any political party. A national framework that mainstreams ageing issues would contribute significantly to addressing some of the outstanding inequities that currently exist across provinces and territories”, said Dr Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing.

“In an attempt to make it easier for them, we articulated the issues that would make a difference to our 350,000 members across the country and the 14 million Canadians 45 and over. But rather than say what they will do to improve the quality of life for Canadians as we age, they are sending out news releases criticizing each other for what they are not doing”, added Eng.

The Liberal Website carries a “Best wishes” message from Stephane Dion to mark the UN International Day of Older Persons but he seems prepared to reverse an important tax advantage for pensioners – pension income splitting – that CARP helped to bring into law.

This was pointed out in a news release from the Conservatives:

“Appearing on CTV’s Canada AM, Dion was asked: “[W]hat is your position on income splitting of pension income?” He responded, “Well, we, it is not our priority. It would be very, very costly.” The Liberals also voted against pension income splitting when the Conservatives introduced it in 2006 (Division No. 57, November 7, 2006).”

For their part, the Liberals criticized the $1000 increase to the seniors’ tax credit promised by the Conservatives as unavailable to low income and fixed income seniors who rely entirely on the Old Age Security [OAS]. Canada Pension Plan [CPP] and Guaranteed Income Supplements [GIS] touting their own promise to increase the GIS by $600 for singles and $800 for couples.

“They are fighting over scraps or issues that are not even on the table. We urge them to address the issues that concern nearly 42% of the population”, said Ross Mayot, Vice President, Community Development of CARP. “ We will just have to keep reminding all the parties of our priorities. Our magazine was sent to 200,000 households across Canada, our election newsletter was read by over 14,000 people and now we will be encouraging our chapter network across the country to bring the message to the candidates at the local level. Our members and other Canadians 45 and over are the most active voters. Why would the politicians ignore them?”