How a Committee Presentation and Your Letters Made All the Difference

On Tuesday June 9th we had the opportunity to present before the Federal Standing Committee on Social Development, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) in Ottawa. We argued that despite what some agencies are saying, it is patently untrue that the problem of poverty among seniors had been eradicated in Canada. More needs to be done, we made our proposals for reform known. For those who are interested our presentation we invite you to visit the website of the standing committee, where you can read a transcript of our presentation or listen to it online.

CARP’s presentation focused on ways the Federal government could ensure adequate retirement income for the entire population. This included increases to OAS and GIS to bring guaranteed income to at least the levels of the low income cut off (LICO), which are appropriate to the geographic locations (for example, cost of living is greater in urban centres, which is not accounted for when using LICO as an indicator or poverty.) Another issue was the establishment of a universally accessible pension plan that will assist the one in three working Canadians, who have no meaningful retirement savings, to save for their retirement.

Other issues addressed by CARP included:

• The need to provide support to the some five million Canadians who are providing informal caregiving to their families and to further develop the home care sector.

• Increasing affordable housing as well as the importance of the availability of assisted services

• Finding ways for seniors to remain in their homes despite rising property taxes, insurance rates, or utility rates, as well as the impending implementation of the harmonized sales tax

Our presentation was received positive by individuals such as MP Michael Savage, who said:

“How do we fix it? There are organizations such as CARP. Susan Eng, from CARP, made a very strong presentation to the anti-poverty committee the other day about what she thinks has to happen for seniors. CARP is calling for social change to bring financial security, equitable and timely access to health care and freedom from discrimination for Canada’s elderly, ensuring that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of this generation of persons aged 50 and over, and building a sense of community and shared values. It calls for more relief for retirees and better protection of seniors. Like many others, it is saying that the GIS is the perfect thing to invest in and we should increase the GIS.”

All this culminated in a call-out to our members to indicate their support a Parliamentary Motion calling for improvements to retirement security as well as increases in CPP, OAS and GIS. We called on CARP Action Online readers to show support by e-mailing their MPs, the party leaders and the Ministers of Finance. The callout was made late Saturday night and by Monday afternoon some 6000 of you had heeded our call. Flaherty received over 500 emails and all of the party leaders received over 200. Good work CARP Action Online readers! The nature of a Parliamentary Motion is that it is not binding, and therefore our goal was to set retirement security as a Parliamentary priority when the house reconvenes in September.