FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2013
Toronto, ON: CARP members will be watching to see whether the March 21st federal budget will address their priority concerns – retirement security, seniors’poverty and equitable access to healthcare, affordable drugs and home care. Any improvements would have some immediate impact but would mostly set the stage for the kind of future Canadians can expect in retirement.
CARP staff expect to be in the Budget Lockup in Ottawa on March 21st to see first hand what the government proposes to address our priority concerns.
CARP has called for broad policy shifts that would improve the quality of life for all Canadians as we age. Specifically,
- Universal Pension Plan to help Canadians save for their own retirement
- Income support levels that ensure that no senior lives in poverty, reverse OAS decision
- Stable funding and national standards for home care, caregiver support and end of life care
- Equitable access to affordable drugs regardless of postal code
“The Federal Budget tells us what kind of country we will be living in and sets the fiscal [taxing and spending] priorities that determine whether people can adequately provide for themselves, get the help they need when they are ill and generally expect to live in dignity through their retirement. The social safety net has been fraying through neglect or deliberate government action. The question is what’s next, in which direction are we heading?” said Susan Eng, VP, Advocacy for CARP
Government response has been mixed. After acknowledging that Canadians were indeed under-saving, the Pooled Registered Pension Plans [PRPPs] were established by the federal government but the provinces have been slow to follow suit. There has been modest enthusiasm for the PRPPs – considered flawed and inadequate by CARP members – and growing support for enhancement to the CPP in addition or instead of the PRPPs, most recently from Gerry McCaughey, the CEO of the CIBC who called for a voluntary layer to the CPP – a proposal which parallels CARP’s UPP.
CARP has welcomed the GIS top-up provided in the 2011 federal budget for 680,000 of Canada’s worst off seniors. More is needed to ensure that no senior lives in poverty. Especially hard hit are single seniors.
However, in the 2012 budget, the federal government announced plans to raise the eligibility age for Old Age Security [OAS], which CARP members rejected immediately and continue to call for a reversal of that decision. In the interim, CARP has called on the federal government to fund support for those unable to wait the extra two years for their OAS and GIS. In the 2012 budget, the government committed to funding the provinces for any expenditures incurred to address the needs of people who could not wait the extra two years. However, no plans are in place at the provincial level. The government should provide some assurance for those facing serious financial need as they reach retirement.
The lack of federal involvement to replace the expiring Health Accords has the potential to further fracture the standards and access to affordable home care, support for caregivers and quality end of life care. CARP has called for national standards, better coordination and stable funding which requires federal involvement and funding and is now advocating its One Patient model to each province.
Drug costs continue to climb forcing many to forego or limit treatment. Drug coverage for seniors varies wildly among provinces. Government and household spending on drugs is becoming unsustainable. A dramatic restructuring of how drugs costs are regulated and funded holds the promise of providing first dollar drug coverage to all Canadians on an income tested basis [Pharmacare].
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
For further information, please contact:
Pam Maher 416.607.2475