How Does the 2023 Budget Impact Older Canadians?

The Federal budget was tabled on March 28, 2023.

While the federal budget receives significant attention, there are two helpful points to remember. First, often many investments in the budget have been previously announced, so what may seem like positive news, is often something already in motion.  It may be positive, but it’s often not news.  Secondly, while a budget is the government’s plan for investment, for an advocacy organization like CARP, the devil is always in the details.  Much of the real work (and result) is often in the details.  Much of CARP’s work is in influencing laws and regulations from a bill’s first proposal through to the details of implementation.  Want to better understand how new laws and regulations are created?  Check out this infographic from the Government of Canada.

The 2023 budget is characterized as: A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.

From CARP’s point of view, in many ways the federal budget has missed the mark for older Canadians.

Here’s why.

Budget Chapter 1: Making Life More Affordable and Supporting the Middle Class

The government is offering a new grocery rebate, which will amount to $227-$240 dollars for older Canadians.

  • This is a drop in the bucket and represents barely one-two weeks of groceries. CARP would like to see this not as a tax rebate but as a cheque in the pocket of vulnerable citizens.

There is a plan to implement “a standard charging port in Canada,” cut junk fees (including telecom roaming charges), and support Canadians’ right to repair their own devices.

  • While a small measure, this is positive.

In a dedicated section to seniors in the budget, the government notes the changes on behalf of seniors since 2016.

  • CARP wants to see what changes are happening now in the 2023 budget, not from seven years prior.

The Old Age Security (OAS) program—OAS pension, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and the Allowances

  • While the government is increasing payments, with inflation, the impact is not as impressive even though the benefit is indexed. As well, the increase is only for those age 75 and older. CARP is strongly opposed to dividing seniors into two classes.

The government is introducing a new, refundable Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, which will provide up to $7,500 in support for constructing a secondary suite for a senior or an adult with a disability, starting in 2023.

  • While the home renovation tax credit is positive, CARP is advocating for additional and innovative solutions to the housing crisis that would benefit seniors, such as co-housing.

CARP has articulated a number of concrete ways the government can make life more affordable for seniors through pension and investor protections, as well as ensuring financial supports are adequate. CARP believes the consumer price index does not adequately reflect seniors’ costs, thereby leading to inaccurate cost of living calculations and ensuing governmental financial supports.

Budget Chapter 2: Investing in Public Health Care and Affordable Dental Care

Budget 2023 delivers an investment of $198.3 billion over the next ten years to strengthen our public health care system.

  • It remains to be seen whether this investment, announced in February, will truly improve healthcare. CARP is concerned that seniors and other vulnerable citizens may once again be a “ping pong ball” caught between the federal government and provinces/territories, as the parties argue over responsibilities and services.  Read more.

New Dental care will provide dental coverage for uninsured Canadians with annual family income of less than $90,000.

  • This is a valuable benefit for some of our members. However, no details are available and there remains a question of how each province will implement this dental care. CARP is especially concerned that some of the money be used to establish a dental program in all long-term-care homes.

The government is promising $6 billion in homecare funding to the provinces. positive, but implementation will be key.

  • While positive, home and community care is still greatly underfunded in comparison to other OECD countries.  As well, implementation is key. A better funded and functioning home and community care system would enable Canadians to age at home with dignity and alleviate pressure on the long-term care system.
  • CARP is calling on governments to better support Canadians living in their homes for longer in a number of ways, including tax relief related to homecare expenses. CARP believes that no homecare expenses should be taxed.

No sign of mental health programming for seniors

Little mention of how or where pharmacare plays into the next few years.

Some positive supports towards better healthcare including strengthening retirement savings for personal support workers and student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural or remote communities.

  • CARP believes the government must aim higher in order to get our healthcare system back on track to being among the world’s best.

Budget Chapter 3: Made-in-Canada Plan: Affordable Energy, Good Jobs, and a Growing, Clean Economy.

The budget refers to investing in people and a Canada that works for everyone.

  • CARP wants to see incentives for for older Canadians to stay in the workforce – skilled labour is a demand, and the data tells us older workers have much to offer. Where is the hope for incentives for older Canadians who still give back and work?

CARP will continue to advocate on behalf of older Canadians for a better and more equitable healthcare, financial security and freedom from ageism.