The Honorable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, assured Seniors at a Delta Town Hall, hosted by the Delta Elders Group ( a SLCBC and EDA initiative) on November 10, that her government was well on its way to addressing issues of: income for seniors, homecare / healthcare, housing, medical assistance in dying (MAID) , transit, Pharmacare, aging in place, support for caregivers, aging work force, keeping seniors connected, active and safe, and the need for improved federal service delivery.
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The Minister noted the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is responsible for Seniors issues, but she and her colleague, the Minister of Health, also share responsibility for this demographic group which makes up almost 16% of Canada’s population and is expected to grow to 24% by 2030. Minister Duclos is the federal co-chair of a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Forum that meets every twelve to eighteen months to discuss issues of importance to seniors. The Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat within Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has a mandate to be the federal focal point for seniors’ issues; and The Interdepartmental Committee on Seniors, coordinated by ESDC, serves as a forum on seniors’ issues for a wide range of federal departments and agencies.
Major studies are underway including: National Seniors Strategy, a National Caregiving Strategy, a National Dementia Strategy, and a United Nations convention on the rights of older people.
The Minister highlighted the accomplishments and proposed plans made during the first year of her government:
INCOME SECURITY & POVERTY REDUCTION
* Increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up
* Cancelled the proposed increase from 65-67 for eligibility for Old Age Security benefits
* Enhanced the Canada Pension Plan from one quarter of earnings, to fully one-third
* Proposed a new Seniors Price Index to reflect cost of living, keeping Old Age Security benefits aligned with costs of living
* A Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that will set targets to reduce poverty
* Retained income splitting of pensions
HEALTH AND PHARMACARE
* Health Accord: commitment to $3B over 4 years to improve home care such as home and palliative care, connecting home care with primary health care, increasing access to quality home care for frail seniors and Canadians with chronic conditions, improving access to quality palliative care at home, and supporting unpaid family and friend caregivers
* Dementia and Brain Health: focus on research, international collaboration, care for federal populations (e.g. First Nations on reserve)
* Age-Friendly Communities (AFC): actively promote this community model through expertise, knowledge and tools to help seniors age actively
* Generous and flexible leave for caregivers through the Employment Insurance Program
* Enhance affordability, accessibility, and appropriate use of prescription drugs
* Negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of public drug plans – study the development of a national Pharmacare program
* Prioritizing infrastructure investments in affordable housing and seniors housing
* Two-year Social Infrastructure Fund investment of $504.4 million to increase affordable housing and $200.7 million to support the construction, repair and adaptation of affordable housing for more than 5,000 low-income senior households
* A National Housing Strategy (NHS) to improve housing outcomes for Canadians, including seniors housing
* Federal and provincial investments to public transit for British Columbia totaled close to a billion dollars
* Help protect at-risk seniors and prevent mistreatment. Grants and contributions to support projects led or inspired by seniors to reduce social isolation
* A study on mistreatment of older Canadians provided new evidence on elder abuse
*A study of strengths and gaps in victim support services for survivors of elder abuse and intimate partner violence in later life
*Disseminate an innovative toolkit designed to reduce social isolation and identify ways to better support the active participation of older Canadians in the economy and civil society
MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING
Current legislation requires three conditions to be met:
* Mentally competent adults who are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
* Have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability and are experiencing enduring and intolerable suffering caused by their medical condition
* Whose deaths have become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances
*Proactive enrollment for Old Age Security benefits without having to apply
* Automatic enrollment for the Guaranteed Income Supplement
Congrats to the Delta Elders Group for putting together a great event and for sharing this critically important information with all of us!