CARP strongly recommended a focus on investor protection in its submission to the Expert Panel and called specifically for a National Securities Enforcement Agency with a mandate to support investors as well providing the necessary expertise to prosecute offenders and order redress.
CARP recommended that such an enforcement agency be established regardless of whether the government was able to overcome the federal-provincial wrangling that might prevent the establishment of a National Securities Regulator.
The Hockin Report noted that the benefits of the changes would be diluted if there were not a single securities regulator and the draft legislation issued with the Report does not contain any provisions to implement the enforcement function. It remains to be seen whether the legislation tabled will include it.
The proposal marks a major advance in investor protection in Canada and is particularly welcome at a time of market chaos that has robbed so many older Canadians of their retirement security
Home Renovations and Seniors’ Housing
The Home Renovation Tax Credit will be helpful for those needing to retrofit their homes to make them safer and more age-friendly not just those seeking to beautify their homes. The 15% tax credit [maximum $1,350] is available on expenditures of $1,000 to $10,000 and applies to renovations, new floors, new furnace, painting, resurfacing a driveway and laying new sod. The eligible expenditures include renovating kitchens or bathrooms and should include retrofits like grab bars, wheelchair ramps and wider doorways. Eligible renovation expenses claimed under the Medical Expenses Tax Credit may also be claimed for a HRTC which would contribute to people being able to remain in their own homes as long as possible.
The tax credit is shared among family members but siblings and unrelated people sharing ownership of the home may each claim a full HRTC. For people considering their living arrangements to accommodate their needs as they age, this credit along with the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit [maximum $750] and RRSP withdrawals may be combined imaginatively to make it financially feasible.
Housing for Low Income Seniors
Budget 2009 will provide $400 million over two years to build housing for low income seniors to be delivered through the Affordable Housing Initiative to be cost-shared with the provinces. These cost sharing agreements already exist to provide low income housing but this should be money targeted at project for seniors.
The greater need in seniors’ housing, however, is supportive services which is not a bricks and mortar issue but requires the cooperation of the health or social services ministries. More assisted living units would be made available if existing stock could be retrofitted and the money applied to the supportive services.
A few of the provinces have integrated programs to provide for assisted housing units and this new money should be available to spur on those programs. There is an opportunity for national standards of design and supportive services to be negotiated with the cost sharing agreements.
Older workers will benefit from the added funding to Targeted Initiative for Older Workers [TIOW], the 5-week add-on employment insurance benefits and provisions for long-tenured workers.