2019 Voter's Guide Factsheets: Seniors

As NUPGE members who work to provide services for seniors can tell you, funding has not kept pace with need.

Ottawa (11 Oct. 2019) — There is a gap between how seniors are supposed to be treated and the reality for too many seniors. Seniors should be able to count on a financially secure retirement. Instead, too many are living in poverty and going without the care they need.

This fact sheet on policies for seniors looks at what parties are proposing in the upcoming federal election. It also looks at what parties have done in government and policies they have proposed, but are not highlighting in the election.

What’s the most effective way to improve services for seniors?

As NUPGE members who work to provide services for seniors can tell you, funding has not kept pace with need. Underfunding means seniors needing services like home care or long-term care are finding themselves on waiting lists or are going without.

The most cost effective way to meet the needs of seniors is by providing adequate funding for publicly delivered services. That helps ensure as much of the funding as possible goes to front line services instead of being eaten up by the higher administrative costs and corporate profits that come with using private, for-profit corporations.

Unfortunately, as both this fact sheet and the privatization fact sheet show, not all parties share that view. There are differences in how much funding each party feels is needed and how much privatization each party feels should be allowed. There are even suggestions that we should rely on tax cuts, even though these do far less than improving public services to help low and middle income seniors.

Federal government plays an important role

While most services for seniors are delivered at the provincial and territorial level, what the federal government does has a huge impact. When federal governments cut transfer payments or limit increases so that they don’t keep pace with need, there will be cuts at the provincial level. Equally, when there are national standards for services, funding increases are more likely to be used to improve services.

Need to protect and enhance pensions

The improvements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) that are being phased in, starting this year. They are an important step forward, but they are not enough to deal with the problem of seniors living in poverty. Further expansion of the CPP is needed and more needs to be done to protect and expand defined benefit pensions. There is also a need to improve support for seniors through Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Again, the approach parties are taking is very different. The fact sheet provides a sense of what we can expect each party to do or not do to support seniors.