Party Leaders make announcements to court seniors

Click here to read ‘Harper promises new tax credit for single, widowed seniors‘ by CTV News Staff – CTV News, September 15, 2015.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has vowed to offer a new tax measure to win the support of Canada’s seniors, a group that is widely considered to be an increasingly important voting bloc.

The proposed $2,000 Single Seniors Tax Credit would help nearly 1.6 million seniors who have pension incomes, according to the party.

Harper announced the tax relief for single and widowed seniors during a campaign stop in North Vancouver on Tuesday.

The policy would be phased in over four years, beginning in January 2017. Combined with the existing $2,000 pension income tax credit, seniors who claim both could see an extra $600 per year, according to the Tories.

The new tax measure will initially cost $23 million, with that number increasing up to $397 million once it is fully implemented.

Harper’s pledge to help seniors comes as the other main political parties have also been pitching policies aimed at appealing to what is considered a key demographic in the upcoming federal election.

Research shows that older voters tend to cast their ballots at a higher rate than the general population — and their numbers are expected to increase in the coming years. According to Statistics Canada, they will make up approximately a quarter of the population by 2025.

Both the Liberals and NDP have also made pledges to seniors, promising more money for them — either directly in the form of pensions or through health-care services.

“The politicians haven’t really given too much attention to seniors over many years and now they’re starting to look at different health issues because health-care dollars are going up,” said Sarah Park with CARP, a national, non-partisan group that advocates for Canadians aged 50 years and over.

Over the weekend, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair unveiled a plan to spend $1.8 billion to help the provinces boost care for seniors if his party is elected. The initiative would be rolled out over four years and would expand home care for 41,000 seniors, create 5,000 more nursing beds and improve palliative care services.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has promised $3.5 billion to boost pensions and raise old age security in line with inflation.

Both the Liberals and the Democrats are also promising to lower the retirement age to 65.