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Canadian Government Responds to HUMA Recommendations for Seniors

On June 20, 2018, the federal government responded to a report by the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the HUMA Committee) entitled Advancing Inclusion and Quality of Life for Seniors in which they addressed six of the HUMA Committee’s recommendations in the report related to income security, housing, home care, informal caregivers, age-friendly communities and a national seniors care strategy. Demand a Plan has supported the adoption of a national seniors care strategy and has been closely following the HUMA Committee’s actions on the topic.

In regard to income security, the government is taking measures to support vulnerable seniors, such as cancelling the increase in age for eligibility and increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for the most vulnerable seniors, the majority of whom are women. In 2019, the government will phase in an enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan, with each year of additional work increasing an individual’s benefits. The Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement programs are being streamlined for easier access, with additional agents being available to assist by phone and a focus on providing information and assistance to Indigenous and rural communities. Educational programs on financial literacy for seniors are being implemented and offered to help protect seniors against fraud and financial abuse.

To address housing, the government spoke of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which will “attract partnerships with and investments from the provinces and territories, municipalities, non-profits and co-operatives, and the private sector and create 7,000 new affordable units for seniors.”

Informal caregiving is a huge responsibility; the government is working to expand provisions to accommodate for those who are responsible for caring for a loved one, with greater provisions for paid leave and making sure employers recognize any family member for whom their employee must care, regardless of whether they reside in the same home.

Age-friendly communities are places that are designed with, and reflect a way of thinking that is inclusive of, the aging population. Age-friendly communities are designed to reduce physical barriers to access and foster inclusion, to combat isolation and to address loneliness. Discussed in the response to the HUMA Committee’s report is the government’s support of the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which has an annual budget of $50 million to support individual community-based initiatives as well as pan-Canadian programs, specifically aimed at combating loneliness and isolation.

Finally, regarding a national seniors strategy, the Canadian government had this to say:  “Our Government agrees that seniors issues are complex and interrelated; indeed, that is why we have been diligent in advancing a multifaceted seniors agenda. We are committed to continuing to provide leadership in this area and are pleased the Committee agrees with the need for ongoing attention to seniors issues.”

To read in full the government’s response to the HUMA Committee’s report, click here.

Advancing Inclusion and Quality of Life for Seniors was authored by MP Marc Serré. In the report, he thanked the Canadian Medical Association for supporting his efforts as part of the Demand a Plan campaign. To read Demand a Plan’s article addressing the HUMA Committee’s recommendations for seniors care in Canada, click here.