Editor’s Note: Welcome to CARP’s Advocacy Highlights, a column that will give you the elevator pitch on all of our policy issues. If you’re looking to get a bird’s eye view of what we are working on and how these issues might affect you than this column is for you. We will provide you with regular updates to keep you apprised of progress.
1. Investor Protection
CARP participated in the Canadian Securities Administrators’ public consultation on a statutory best interest duty for advisers and dealers. CARP advocated for a statutory best interest standard to balance the advisor-client relationship and a clear pathway for redress to protect the investor. If the recommendations are adopted, it is anticipated that investors will be better protected.
Investor protection remains a big issue. Late 2011, the Supreme Court ruled against the federal government plan for a National Securities Regulator that had an ancillary investor protection and enforcement agency.
Last year, the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), the banking mediator, suffered a blow when RBC and TD withdrew their participation from their banking complaints service, removing one recourse option for retail bank clients (They are still required by law to use OBSI for investment complaints).
2. Older Workers
CARP called on the government to address employment issues for older workers. More and more people are seeking work past the traditional retirement age, some want to work out of enjoyment and desire to remain engaged while others need to work for financial reasons. Since 2006, not only has the number of workers aged 65 and older doubled, but the unemployment rate for this population has also doubled. Older workers are facing challenges in the workplace – to keep their jobs, balance care-giving responsibilities, and to find new jobs when they are downsized.
CARP is calling on governments for tax incentives for hiring and retraining older workers, support for job fairs and job match programs targeting older workers, and incentives for
continuous training and skills upgrading such as innovative workplace programs to promote multi-generational workplaces. CARP wants to see action against systemic ageism, the value of older workers promoted, and transitions between opportunities made more navigable for older workers.
3. One Patient – Healthcare Reform
With the Health Accords expiring in 2014, Canada badly needs healthcare reform. However, instead of renegotiating a new national direction, the federal government unilaterally determined its share of health care costs and left it for provinces to “take it or leave it”. Provinces are now left to set national standards, resolve structural inefficiencies, and get healthcare spending under control. CARP is calling on provincial Ministers of Health for healthcare reform. We want to see health systems become person-centric, in which patients can easily navigate the health system and move from one stage of care to another more smoothly to meet their full spectrum of health needs. This does not need to be costly.
CARP is advocating for a care continuum that emphasizes integration, effective navigation, and formal communication. This means stable funding, mandatory standards for home care, income supports for caregivers, and equitable access to decent nursing homes and quality end of life care. Current health systems are too fragmented, complex, and as a result, difficult to navigate. Not only does it result in unnecessary costs, but also in poorer health outcomes of Canadians. CARP’s “One Patient” proposal outlines an integrated care continuum that each province needs should and need to adopt.
Imagine first dollar basic drug coverage for all Canadians funded by massive savings in drug costs through a single national purchasing agency with an independent drug review process that can demand fair drug pricing across the country. CARP is advocating for a new reforms in pharmacare in the midst of rising drug costs and increasing needs of Canadians. Too often, people are foregoing their needed drugs due to high costs and risking their health.
Recent reports have suggested various ways in which Canada’s drug programs can be reformed to be more efficient, affordable, equitable, and sustainable in the long term. CARP is calling on provinces to consider such recommendations and move beyond the status quo.
5. Elder Abuse
CARP secured an election promise for greater protection against elder abuse in the run up to the 2011 federal election. Bill C-36, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Elder Abuse), fulfilled that promise. It was introduced in the spring of 2012 and became law in December of 2012. The Criminal Code now allows judges to add vulnerability due to age as an aggravating factor, allowing increased sentencing of convicted abusers.
Changing the Criminal Code won’t be enough to end elder abuse. CARP is now taking the issue to the provinces, fighting for specialized investigative and prosecutorial support, victim support services, elder shelters, and greater support for caregivers.
6. Pension Reform – PRPP & CPP
CARP has been calling on governments to improve the current design of PRPPs (Pooled Registered Pension Plans) and to enhance the CPP. On December 5th, CARP issued an open letter to Canada’s Finance Ministers calling on them to fulfill their 2010 promise to enhance CPP. The ministers reaffirmed their support for PRPPs and agreed on the importance of harmonizing across jurisdictions and committed to revisiting CPP enhancement in June 2013. Recently, CARP issued another open letter to the Finance Ministers in anticipation of their meeting in June. However, very little action taken place since the two letters, and their expected meeting in June did not take place. It is unknown whether their meeting will still take place and the discussions will continue.