Building Better Support for Canadian Seniors

Stephen Fuhr and Filomena Tassi

The federal Minister of Seniors, Filomena Tassi, and Kelowna – Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr were in Kelowna yesterday to engage with seniors and learn how to build better support for Canadians later in life.

One issue raised was planning for longevity.

According to Minister Tassi, Canadians are living longer and by 2030 seniors could make up over a quarter of the population.

“We have to ensure that they have savings for a long period of time  and that's why investments, like in the CPP, and ensuring  that moving forward we are increasing the CPP so that  in years ahead there's up to a 50% increase in retirement security,” said Tassi.

Seniors are now eligible for pensions at 65, down from 67, with automatic enrollment if eligible.

The federal government has also increased incentives to continue working and increased pensions for single seniors.

Each year 40,000 seniors are entitled to the Canadian Pension Plan and don't know it.

Among income security and longevity, was the topic of Pharmacare.

Tassi claims the federal government doesn’t want Canadians choosing between buying groceries or paying rent and prescription medication.

“We started the pharma care advisory council and in the interim report there was a couple of recommendations made. One was to set up a drug  agency, which we've committed to do in budget 2019 and that will help with the purchase of drugs in bulk and what that does is estimated to save $3 billion a year."

She said purchasing medications in bulk will make the system more cost effective and efficient.

Additionally the federal government will establish a detailed reference book of beneficial drugs and invest in rare diseases.

Canada is also focusing on combating ageism and isolation through the New Horizons for Seniors program.

The program provides funding for projects that encourage seniors to play an important role in their communities by volunteering, participating in and leading community activities.

Minister Tassi believes that when seniors are engaged everyone in the community benefits.

 “We've increased [funding for the program] in budget 2019 by $100 million over 5 years. That’s a 40 per cent increase. So this is a significant investment, it’s an investment we're making because we recognize that senior's isolation is problematic,” said Tassi.

According to Stephen Fuhr - over $400,000 has gone to Kelowna community initiatives to help seniors get out of their house and socialize.