CARP writes to PM urging seniors-first approach to planning

Older man wearing a hat outdoors

This week, CARP wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau ahead of key meetings to plan Canada’s next steps in responding to the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

Urging the federal government to follow through on unrealized campaign promises—the proposed boosts to Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan Survivor Benefit have gone seemingly forgotten since last fall’s election—the letter reminds Trudeau that the older vote has the power to shape the political course of our country.

Our members deserve to come first as plans are made to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the coming months and rebuild Canada’s shaken economy.

Text of the letter follows:

September 15th, 2020

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

As you and your colleagues meet to plan your collective approach in addressing the critical concerns facing older Canadians in these incredibly difficult times, CARP (formerly the Canadian Association of Retired Persons) reinforces to you on behalf of our more than 320,000 members that there are several key priorities that require immediate attention.

Chief among these are several outstanding promises your party made to them within your campaign platform last year—promises that earned you the invaluable support of Canada’s older and most powerful voters.

We implore you to follow through on these measures with due urgency as they stand to improve the lives of our seniors, allowing them to live with the dignity and quality of life they so rightly deserve.

COVID-19 has undermined the fundamental principles of ageing well in our country, taking a dire toll on the financial security, health and well-being of seniors in communities across Canada. In particular, our members demand that your government thoroughly examine and address identified issues affecting the safety and security of vulnerable residents in long-term care, financial security of older adults and vital supports for the unpaid caregivers who save our health care system an estimated $25 billion annually.

Comprehensive strategies are also desperately needed for dementia care and preventive health care in order to keep seniors safe and reduce burden on our acute health care system.

CARP outlined these items in detail within our Submission to the Pre-Budget Consultations for your 2021 Budget in August 2020 (attached). However, we want to take this opportunity to emphasize some key points at this pivotal juncture:

  1. CARP and our valued members ask that you follow through with your previous election commitments to boost Old Age Security by 10% for people 75 and older and increase the Canada Pension Plan Survivor Benefit by 25% for people 65 and older—from 60% to 75%.
  2. More than one in four Canadians provide unpaid care to family members and friends with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Please make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable or a rebate, to ensure all caregivers are treated equally and are able to obtain integral financial relief. We also ask that you move to allow a drop-out provision of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for full-time caregivers who have left the workforce due to their caregiving responsibilities.
  3. It should come as no surprise that long-term care is a top concern for the majority of CARP members. We ask that you provide funding for the necessary increased support of home and community care for those countless residents who would have their needs better met at home, where they would be safer from the ongoing threat of COVID-19, as well as the vast majority who would prefer to age in place.
  4. In 2019, your government announced a Dementia Strategy for Canada. This Strategy was welcomed by CARP as a crucial measure to support our rapidly aging population. We ask that you ensure funding is made available to support a successful implementation of this Strategy and increase Federal support for adult day programs and social supports for persons with dementia, as well as for their caregivers.
  5. We also ask you to commit to preventive health care by fully funding the high-dose flu vaccine, as well as the best-in-class and recommended shingles and pneumococcal vaccines for all adults over age 65, especially those in who are appropriately on the frailty scale as diagnosed by their physicians. These vaccines must also be easily accessible through multiple avenues, including pharmacies and other appropriate points of distribution nation-wide.
  6. CARP asks that you adopt and implement universal, comprehensive and evidence-based pharmacare as proposed by the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.

Mr. Prime Minister, as you create you action plan for the next months, please remember that 95% of our more than 320,000 CARP members regularly vote in Federal elections. They are looking to you now for support on these very important issues—issues which directly affect the lives of some of our country’s most valued and engaged citizens.

Please keep our older people at the forefront of your decision-making process in these critically important coming months.

Yours truly,

Bill VanGorder
Chief Policy Officer

CARP – A New Vision of Ageing for Canada

Download a pdf of the letter