From Parliament Hill: Government helping Canada’s seniors

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Canada’s seniors have worked hard to build a better country for future generations and the government of Canada has taken significant action to improve their quality of life. In the 2011 budget, the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, we have increased financial support for low-income seniors and enhanced the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).

As of July of this year, seniors with little or no income other than the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) now receive additional benefits up to $600 per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for couples. The increase to the GIS represents a $300 million investment per year and is the third GIS increase in the last five years. OAS benefits, including the GIS, help seniors meet their immediate, basic needs and maintain a minimum standard of living in retirement.

The 2011 budget is providing an additional $10 million over two years for the NHSP. The NHSP helps seniors use their leadership, energy and skills to benefit communities across Canada. A call for proposals for this program is now open. Please visit www.hrsdc.gc.ca/seniors for details.

Since 2006, the government of Canada has taken action on many issues important to seniors including:

•providing Canadians with close to $72 billion this year through Canada’s public pension system;

•providing $2.3 billion annually in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting and increasing the age credit;

•providing $400 million over two years under the 2009 budget for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors;

•supporting positive and active aging through the collaborative Age Friendly Communities Initiative, Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults and falls prevention initiatives;

•appointing a Minister of State (Seniors)—someone who can bring the concerns of older Canadians to the Cabinet table and stand up on their behalf;

•establishing Oct. 1 as National Seniors Day to recognize the significant and ongoing contributions seniors make to families, communities, workplaces and society; and

•creating the National Seniors Council in 2007 to provide advice to the federal government on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, and investing $13 million over three years in support of the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative (FEAI), which successfully concluded on March 31.

I hope that you will find this informative on the initiatives the government of Canada has put forward to address the issues important for Canada’s seniors.

I am hopeful to meet with many constituents and attend events throughout the riding this summer in the hopes of taking what you have to say back to Ottawa in the fall. If you have any events that you would like me to be aware of or attend, please contact my Ottawa office at david.wilks@parl.gc.ca

David Wilks is the member of Parliament for the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding.

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