2019 Federal election: Courtenay-Alberni candidates address seniors issues

“What are your party’s plans to ease the stress realized by seniors on fixed incomes?”

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Alberni riding constituents, we have supplied all candidates with a series of questions. Each week, we will publish their answers to questions pertinent to this riding. In this article, the five Courtenay-Alberni candidates answer the following question: “What are your party’s plans to ease the stress realized by seniors on fixed incomes?” (300-word maximum). Order of placement was done at random. Order will be rotated in each subsequent article.

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JONAH GOWANS

Liberal Party of Canada

Jonah Gowans is running for the Liberal Party in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

I am proud of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team. They are being bold when it comes to seniors. On September 18th there was an announcement of some of the measures I hope to help the Liberals implement in the next parliament. The two biggest announcements were:

Putting up to $729 more in the pockets of seniors over 74 each year by increasing Old Age Security by 10 per cent. This will help lift more than 20,000 seniors out of poverty.

Giving up to $2,080 in additional benefits, every year, to those who’ve lost a loved one, by increasing the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan survivor’s benefit by 25 per cent, which Liberals across the country have heard was crucial for seniors.

The other two critical piece that I know the Liberal team is working on, and will be announcing during this campaign, are Pharmacare and additional funding for seniors-specific housing. It is time. For several years I have heard at the doors about the need for these changes, and I am looking forward to implementing the plans when they are announced. Seniors deserve more from their government, and when elected, I will work to make sure they have a safe, secure, and dignified retirement.

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SEAN WOOD

Green Party of Canada

Sean Wood is the Green Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

Seniors make vital contributions to the economic and social life of our community. However, I’ve met many seniors in Courtenay-Alberni who have very little income and struggle to make ends meet. Green Party pledges such as the Guaranteed Livable Income, universal pharmacare, and affordable housing contribute to seniors’ quality of life and will ease the stress realized by seniors on fixed incomes.

Seniors with no additional income, whether singles or couples, live below the national poverty line in much of Canada. Greens will establish a universal Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program to replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance, and income supplements for seniors. Payments would be set at a “livable” level for different regions of the country and those earning above a certain total income would pay the GLI back in taxes.

Canada is the only country with universal healthcare that does not include universal pharmacare, and expensive medications are a strain on the budgets of many fixed-income seniors. Greens will expand the single-payer Medicare model to include pharmacare for everyone as well as free dental care for low-income Canadians. No one should have to choose between medication and medical treatments they need to be healthy, and essentials like food and housing.

Housing affordability is a key challenge for seniors living on a fixed income. Non-market housing such as social housing and co-operative housing can help seniors with housing affordability. Greens will provide financing to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives to build and restore quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs, and low-income families. Greens will also support innovative home-sharing plans and other measures to allow people to stay in their own homes as long as possible.

Learn more about the Green Party’s National Seniors Strategy at greenparty.ca/platform

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TROY WHITLEY

People’s Party of Canada

Troy Whitley is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

The People’s Party of Canada recognizes that the cost of living for all Canadians has spiraled out of control, and among the most impacted are our senior citizens. Rising taxes, prescription medications becoming increasingly unaffordable, and the cost of transportation has left many of those who are most vulnerable at risk of becoming destitute.

We at the PPC will recognize and honour our senior citizens by removing the unnecessary burdens they face. We will begin by respecting their independence and allow them to make their own transportation decisions, making movement easier by scrapping the unfair carbon tax. A tax that does not serve to improve our environment has no place in Canada.

Next, we will re-focus and re-prioritize our healthcare system to ensure that essential services are covered with optional procedures moved to a private model. This will reduce the burden on our already overwhelmed healthcare system. I’ve spoken before about utilizing the resources of Health Canada to become the biggest negotiator for affordable medication and we can leverage this to mean lower prices for everyone.

Lastly, I understand that in spite of our seniors’ efforts to save for retirement, the money they have worked so hard to keep in the bank simply doesn’t stretch as far as it should have. Lowering or even stabilizing the cost of living is an exceptionally difficult task which the PPC will work to tackle, but the most immediate way to help will be to address taxation as a whole. Currently Canadians are very aware they are nickel-and-dimed at every turn and addressing these unfair and outrageous taxes are one of the best way to help Canadians in retirement age and with fixed incomes.

It is not enough to give lip service to our seniors, we must do more to help.

GORD JOHNS

New Democratic Party

NDP candidate Gord Johns is seeking re-election in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Photo supplied.

Too many seniors struggle to make ends meet in Courtenay-Alberni. I have met seniors in housing shelters, basement rooms and one couple living in their van. Others live cheque-to-cheque. Years of Conservative cuts and Liberal inaction make it harder for seniors to get by. Over 30% of single women over 65 are living in poverty across Canada. This is not acceptable.

The demographic in Courtenay-Alberni is one of the oldest in Canada and our seniors’ population will sharply increase over the coming decades. We need better choices to meet their needs and ensure everyone ages with dignity.

The time has come for national pharmacare for all. The Liberals and now the Conservatives give lip service to a prescription drug plan but this is just campaign talk, they have no intention to follow through. The Conservatives favour increased private health care that can be paid with a credit card. The New Democrat plan will provide prescription medicine to all seniors and would be implemented now. No more studies. No more delays. No more cuts.

Many seniors rely on family members for care or are caregivers themselves to a spouse or another loved one. Mostly, these are women and they need help to make life more affordable. I will push to make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit fully refundable, providing thousands of dollars to the most low-income caregivers, many of whom have given up work to care for a loved one.

Every senior should have a right to safe and affordable housing, free of isolation. Our plan is for a half-million affordable housing units across the country over the next decade including supportive housing choices for seniors like intergenerational co-housing.

We all deserve to age well. For more information about my record in Parliament and our seniors’ platform, go to: reelectgord.ca

BYRON HORNER

Conservative Party of Canada

Byron Horner is the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

Mr. Horner chose not to submit an answer.

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