Waterloo Chapter: Dying with dignity among topics at senior-focused election forum

Click here to read ‘Dying with dignity among topics at senior-focused election forum‘  by Anam Latif – The Record.com, September 4, 2015.

Click here to view the debate [starts at 25:00 minute mark] and to read the article.

WATERLOO — When it comes to ensuring financial security for aging Canadians, four local candidates from each of the four parties seemed to agree at a local election forum at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in uptown Waterloo on Thursday night.

The forum was hosted by the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) and was meant to give local seniors an opportunity to get a “clear understanding of the election issues,” said Paula Stanghetta, president of the local chapter.

“There are lots of issues on Canadian minds like health care but seniors are not, and income security for seniors is not.”

Topics highlighted by seniors, including dying with dignity, were discussed at the forum of more than 100 people.

All four candidates stressed the importance of discussing the question of dying with dignity, a hot topic for many Canadians since a February Supreme Court ruling lifted the ban on doctor-assisted suicide.

Governments have until February 2016 to develop laws and policies on doctor-assisted suicide. But none of the candidates’ parties seemed to have a clear plan in place with that deadline in mind.

“The Harper Conservatives have ignored the issue many Canadians and their loved ones face,” said Richard Walsh, Green party candidate for Waterloo.

“Personally, I fully support the principle.”

Raj Saini, Liberal candidate for Kitchener-Centre said his party will appoint a special committee to develop policies, while Susan Cadell, NDP candidate for Kitchener-Centre pointed out that palliative care, or “living with dignity” is equally important.

Peter Braid, Conservative candidate for Waterloo said the federal government has appointed a three-person panel to deliberate on the matter.

“We recognize there are a range of views on this issue,” Braid said. “We need to get this right.”

Cadell pointed out the existing panel has two members who are opposed to the practice.

Other issues discussed Thursday night included financial stability for seniors, poverty, animal welfare and universal pharmacare.

“We need to reduce old age security rules of eligibility from 67 to 65,” Walsh said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Saini and Cadell.

All three candidates said they would maintain income-splitting for seniors. Braid said the federal government was responsible for it.