Susan Eng's Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Originally published by on May 20th, 2011. To go to the website please click here

Dear Prime Minister Harper, There has been unprecedented attention paid in this election to issues that resonate with older Canadians. Every party made promises to address pension reform, caregiver support, poverty among pensioners and elder abuse. Such consensus should let Parliament move quickly on these pressing issues.

With your decisive majority comes the opportunity to reinforce the broader values that underpin these election promises. The Guaranteed Income Supplement increase proposed in the March budget is most welcome but elimination of poverty in old age should be the permanent benchmark. The budget’s non-refundable caregiver tax credit should be refundable and expanded to better support the lower income or those who had to quit their jobs to look after loved ones. 2.7 million Canadian caregivers contribute $25 billion annually in unpaid labour and help divert demand from the public health care system.

Your promises to eliminate mandatory retirement and increase sentencing for elder abuse are long overdue protections for the rights of older Canadians and should be the first order of business.

Health care reform is your next major challenge and CARP members consistently call for restructuring public service delivery rather than increasing taxes, imposing user fees or cutting services. Home care, primary health care teams, chronic disease management, bulk purchasing of drugs and fending off demands to extend drug patent protection are opportunities to contain costs and ensure adequate funding for necessary public services.

Older voters were targeted in all the party platforms and for good reason; they remain the most politically engaged and committed voters. CARP members will be watching for clear proposals on these priorities in the Throne Speech and for Parliament to act swiftly to improve the quality of life for all Canadians as we age.