Federal policy changes in the works for seniors are no coincidence

“Mobilizing their own base and their own constituency in many respects is as important, and maybe even more important, than expanding their base,” Gregg said.

Indeed, he said many of the Conservative stances on social issues — abortion, gun control, same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana — are driven by an appeal to seniors, and have little to do with gender or geography.

“Seniors arguably are the most important constituency for the Conservative party.”

If the Conservatives actually take action on the issues Ablonczy is talking about, the party will have a recipe for success, said Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for CARP, a large seniors’ lobby group based in Toronto.

She emphasizes that 70 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 regularly vote. And although that vote is thought to be fairly loyal, even small shifts can make a difference to a party’s electoral fortunes.

“If you actually give them things that they are asking for, you’ve got a pretty good formula for success.”

Ignoring appeals to raise the GIS or OAS is a mistake, however, countered Sylvia MacLeay, who heads up a 70,000-member seniors’ organization in British Columbia.

Because life spans are increasing at a time when savings have been pummelled by fickle financial markets, more and more seniors are finding their savings to be insufficient, she said.

“They thought they’d have enough to live, but now they find themselves getting lower and lower, closer to the poverty level,” she said. For her members, increasing government pension benefits “is a top priority.”

© The Canadian Press

Keywords: work, seniors, pension reform, demographics