Seniors’ care was a topic that came up multiple times during the all candidates forum for the Lakeland riding on Oct. 7, with each of the candidates pushing their party’s policies on the issue.
Duane Zaraska, of the NDP, said he is compassionate and concerned about the issue and that his party has a national seniors strategy, which involves bringing the age of retirement back to 65 from 67 and improving the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP).
“We will boost the guaranteed income supplement and we’d work with the provinces. We’re a government that will actually work with the provinces to expand long term and home care services,” said Zaraska.
“With the last election, Harper promised not to cut pensions, but later he raised the age of retirement from 65 to 67, so when he says he’s open to increasing CPP it’s hard to believe. And just like the last Liberal government, the Conservatives have done nothing to protect private pensions. The Liberals have also slashed CPP and hurt low-income seniors with cuts to affordable housing.”
Conservative candidate Shannon Stubbs pointed out that health care is the responsibility of the provincial government, which makes decisions on how funds are used and how infrastructure is dealt with.
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She did note, however, that the Conservative Government has increased health and social transfers every year they’ve been in power.
“Our budget currently calls for stable, predictable increases moving forward and that means more resources for provincial governments to build long term care facilities and assisted living care and to getting more resources to home care for our seniors,” she said.
“We are proposing expanded single and widowed seniors tax credit, we’ve introduced pension income splitting, we’ve increased the tax free savings account, of which 60 per cent are held by seniors. We’ve increased the age credit and doubled the pension income credit as well as introduced a new home accessibility tax credit. These are all measures combined that we think help seniors to make ends meet and allow them to keep their savings for as long as possible.”
Robert McFadzean, Libertarian candidate, said the best way to approach seniors care is to provide it in the private sector. McFadzean feels this would be the most cost effective was to handle the issue.
“These kinds of things would not arise in the free market,” he said, referring to the shortage beds for seniors. “If you look back through history the average person in western countries today have a higher standard of living than kings and queens had 300 years ago. That was achieved through liberty and private enterprise. These kinds of issues arise because we have too much government and if we can start clawing that back, we will see these issues disappear.”
The Liberal take on the issue came from candidate Gary Parenteau who said his party would take measures like restoring the old age security and guaranteed income supplement to 65 and introduce a new seniors price index to make sure they keep up with rising costs.
“In our first three months in government we would begin discussions with provinces and territories, workers, employers and others on how to enhance the Canada Pension Plan,” he said. “We will (also) prioritize new investment and affordable housing at seniors facilities. Will help lift hundreds of thousands of seniors out of poverty by boosting the guaranteed income supplement for a single low-income senior by 10 per cent.”