We asked for your input and you certainly gave it! Nearly 3,000 readers responded to the online poll last month. In fact, we received 900 responses in just one hour after we sent out the newsletter. One day later, there were 2,400 responses. Your interest in arguably the most important budget of the day reflects that of all Canadians waiting for inspired leadership in troubled times.
While you were recovering from holiday festivities, the Finance Minister’s pre-budget consultation tour made the rounds of corporate CEOs and the organized chaos of last minute town halls.
In a normal year, CARP and other groups representing important stakeholders would make formal pre-budget submissions to the Finance Subcommittee of the House of Commons. There was nothing normal this time, so CARP sent its submissionreflecting your input, with an open letter to the Finance Minister and all his provincial counterparts in advance of their meeting in December. Other groups we coordinate our work with, like the Federal Superannuates National Association and the Canadian Caregivers Coalition, also sent out their submissions via the media.
CARP wants to ensure that the politicians realize that the submissions we make reflect the priorities of our members. While not every single CARP member can be polled, the response of 3,000 readers carries a lot of weight and is arguably as reliable and representative as the polls you see reported in the media.
Your answers were not surprising but certainly pointed out gaps in the federal government’s thinking. Click here for poll results. While talk of economic stimulus is taken to mean investment in the economy generally, an overwhelming majority [72%] of you felt that investment in people [pension protection, relief from poverty] was just as important and 16% thought it was more important.
The Finance Minister asked people to choose from 5 main economic stimulus priorities and our members choose “Expedite Infrastructure Spending” [39.5%] and “Building Strong, Sustainable Labour Markets and Training Incentives” [40.1%] and showed dramatically less interest in the others.
Of the issues that threaten our financial security and well-being, which were NOT listed by the Finance Minister, our members overwhelmingly supported investing in people by: Eliminating Mandatory RRIF Withdrawals [88%], Permitting Full Unlocking of Life Income funds [85.4%], Universal Supplementary Pension Plan [81%], Increasing OAS and GIS [85/9%], Helping Older Workers Stay Employed [80.2%], Eliminating Mandatory Retirement [82.9%] and a National Pharmacare program [85.6%].
Special mention should be made of the 95.7% of you who endorsed the idea of supporting the 5 million family caregivers providing $6-9 billion dollars of unpaid care every year. Without the help of these informal caregivers, the responsibility of caring for older adults would fall on the health care system. In collaboration with the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, CARP is asking for budget measures to assist caregivers. To view a copy of CARP’s proposal for a National Caregiver Strategy, please click here.