Information for Seniors
Parliament for 2015
Richmond Electoral District
On February 24, 2015, Alice Wong spoke in the House of Commons on a take-note debate on the rise of anti-Semitism. The following is a transcript:
Hon. Alice Wong (Minister of State (Seniors), CPC):
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Mount Royal for his remarks. I know that he has worked very closely with the Minister for Multiculturalism over the years on the issue of combatting anti-Semitism.
Could the hon. member describe his own experience in working on this important issue with the government and with the Minister for Multiculturalism in particular? Could he highlight some of the accomplishments that resulted from this co-operation?
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
Mr. Chair, we had, I believe, members from all parties and all sides working together to establish the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism. The Minister for Multiculturalism played an important role, which reference was made earlier. From that we both went to London for the London Conference Against Anti-Semitism in 2009. The minister was there. He played a central role in the 2010 Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism.
In both London and Ottawa, we adopted important declarations and protocols, and the minister referred to them this evening.
I will conclude by saying that I take this to be a shared objective and a shared engagement by members of all parties. The time has come to sound the alarm about this globalizing hatred, which is the canary in the mine shaft of global evil.
Canadian Fencing Federation receives funding from the Government of Canada to host the Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015
February 13, 2015 – Richmond, British Columbia – Department of Canadian Heritage
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) and Member of Parliament (Richmond), on behalf of the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), today announced the Canadian Fencing Federation is receiving funding of $40,000 through Sport Canada’s Hosting Program for the Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015, which is taking place from February 13 to 15.
- In 2014–2015, Sport Canada is contributing up to $90,000 through its Hosting Program to the Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015 ($40,000) and the Pan American Junior Championships ($50,000).
- The Government of Canada contributed $429,000 to the Canadian Fencing Federation in 2014–2015 through Sport Canada’s Sport Support Program.
- For the period of October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, Sport Canada will provide up to $233,000 through the Athlete Assistance Program to support 20 fencing athletes and para-athletes with living and training expenses and special needs.
- The Canadian Fencing Federation is a non-profit, amateur sport association and the national governing body of fencing. It includes 10 provincial fencing associations, which in turn represent over 200 local clubs from coast to coast. Its mandate is to establish, develop and support fencing in Canada and to represent Canada on the international scene.
“The Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015 is a unique international sporting event that Canada is proud to host during the Year of Sport. It is an amazing opportunity for our epee athletes, coaches and officials to show their talent on home soil as they prepare for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games and the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. We are pleased to help make this event possible.”
—The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport)
“National sport organizations are essential to Canada’s success as a leading sport nation, and the Canadian Fencing Federation plays a crucial role in developing high-performance athletes to represent us on the international scene. We invite Canadians from the area to come and witness the exploits of some of our best fencing talent.”
—The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) and Member of Parliament (Richmond)
“The Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015 will be a highlight of international fencing in North America this year. Thanks to the funding and support of the Government of Canada and the excellent partnership between the British Columbia Fencing Federation, Canadian Fencing Federation, City of Richmond, Richmond Olympic Oval, Hosting BC and the host Dynamo Fencing Club, the best fencers on the planet will compete in front of Canadian fans for glory and world ranking points.”
—Igor Gantsevich, Co-Chair, Peter Bakonyi World Cup 2015
The following is a transcript:
Gung Hay Fat Choy. Laureen and I would like to offer our warmest greetings to all Canadians celebrating the Chinese New Year. The arrival of the year of the sheep is a special time; a time of family, fellowship and the giving of gifts. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the past year and above all, a time to look forward with optimism, to peace, prosperity and success in the year to come.
I congratulate all Chinese Canadians on the remarkable role you have played and continue to play in our country’s heritage and development. Your abilities, energy and initiative have helped build Canada and whatever our roots, wherever we come from, Canada is a country we share and we can all be proud of. May you have a healthy, happy and prosperous year of the sheep.
Minister of State (Seniors) highlights new approach to address the social isolation of seniors in Canada
February 11, 2015– Vancouver, British Columbia – Employment and Social Development Canada
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), highlighted the Government of Canada’s work to tackle the social isolation of seniors in Canada during remarks delivered today at the University of British Columbia.
Social isolation is commonly defined as a low quantity and quality of contact with others. A situation of social isolation involves few social contacts and few social roles, as well as the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.
Social isolation touches many aspects of seniors’ lives, including access to information and services, active participation in the community, healthy aging, income security and caregiving. Social isolation can lead to depression and increased vulnerability to elder abuse, among other concerns.
In her remarks, Minister Wong encouraged communities to take a coordinated approach to address the social isolation of seniors. The Government of Canada has a number of programs and activities aimed at creating awareness and addressing the impact of this growing issue.
These programs and activities include initiatives like the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) pilot projects on social isolation, the recent report of the National Seniors Council, and their ongoing work which will include a focus on examining ways to encourage local communities to reach out to socially isolated seniors. The social isolation of seniors is also one of the priorities to be examined this year by the Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors.
- The Government of Canada is committed to supporting and promoting seniors’ health, well-being and contributions by encouraging them to stay active, engaged and informed.
- Today, 1 in 7 Canadians is aged 65 or over. By 2036, nearly 1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior.
- Over the last decade in Canada, life expectancy at age 65 increased by 2 years, approximately twice the rate of growth observed over each of the previous decades since 1929.
- In 2014, the National Seniors Council was asked to assess the impact of social isolation on seniors in Canada and explore ways to prevent, or reduce it. The Council presented a report that highlighted the importance of working with those who deliver services and programs directly to seniors.
“Social isolation affects seniors’ economic, social, physical and mental well-being. It’s an issue that is both pervasive and difficult to resolve. But it is also preventable. I am confident we can address the isolation of seniors through social innovation. Social innovation succeeds by combining resources from governments, businesses, community organizations and academics to generate new ideas and tools that address social problems in new ways.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)
Speech by the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) on the Approach to Social Isolation
Vancouver, British Columbia, February 11, 2015
Check against delivery
It’s my pleasure to be here today.
I am always impressed when I see a group like this together in one room.
It’s a visual reminder of our shared purpose and passion—helping others to live well.
To feel healthy, happy and safe.
To contribute to those around us.
And in turn, to feel the sense of belonging and security that a supportive community brings.
Unfortunately, life can put obstacles in our way.
Especially as we get older.
Social isolation is one of them.
It’s an issue that is both pervasive and difficult to resolve.
But the answer is both simple and yet complex. It comes down to a fundamental truth in life—people need people.
Over the past three years, I’ve been speaking with seniors, seniors’ organizations and other stakeholders across the country.
They have made it clear that social isolation is an issue that demands our attention. This is especially true in the context of our aging population.
Canada is facing a major demographic shift.
Right now, more people are over 60 years of age than there are children under 5. By 2050, seniors will outnumber children under 15.
Just the other day, I read a rather startling prediction. The Office of the Chief Actuary said that 5 of every 10 Canadians who are now aged 20 can expect to live until the age of 90.
Of course, this is good news. But the fact is, we’re going to have more and more seniors in Canada. And unless we take action now, the issue of social isolation will become more prevalent.
What do I mean by the social isolation of seniors?
Social isolation is commonly defined as low quantity and quality of contact with others.
Being socially isolated involves few social contacts and few social roles, as well as the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.
It can cause communities to suffer a lack of social cohesion, and suffer the loss of experience that older adults bring to our families, neighbourhoods and communities.
On an individual level, social isolation affects seniors’ economic, social, physical and mental well-being.
As everyone in this room knows, over time, older people can lose meaningful contact with their friends, family and community for a range of reasons.
For all seniors, aging is a series of transitions. Some transitions are planned, while others are not.
For anyone, senior or not, losing a spouse, a change in income, or an illness can be a major, life-changing event.
Most of us would have our hands full simply keeping up a daily routine after something like this.
It’s a somber irony that going through events like this can damage the social networks we have, even when we are most in need of their support.
Even something like losing the ability to drive can drastically change someone’s life.
If you can’t drive, walk or take a bus to go to an appointment or meet some friends, it’s easy to lose touch with your community.
Dealing with illness, or any sort of loss of independence, can cause a social disconnect.
There are clear links between health and social isolation. For seniors, being part of a social network has a positive influence.
For example, it can encourage seniors to stay physically and mentally active.
Without a social network, seniors run a higher risk of having health issues.
They’re more likely to drink and smoke, remain sedentary and eat poorly.
To add to that, the risk of hospitalization of isolated seniors is four to five times greater.
These are serious consequences. Unfortunately, it does not end there.
Apart from the physical health risks, social isolation also threatens mental wellness.
It is associated with higher levels of depression and suicide.
In fact, one in four seniors lives with a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety or dementia.
Approximately half of Canadians over the age of 80 report feeling lonely. And sadly, men over 80 have one of the highest suicide rates of all age groups.
Social isolation can also leave seniors vulnerable to elder abuse, including financial abuse.
As you can see, social isolation is a common denominator among a whole range of issues that affect the well-being of seniors.
It is a problem we can’t ignore.
While difficult to pinpoint, we do know that back in 2006 over 30 percent of Canada’s seniors were at risk of social isolation.
In 2008, 19 percent of Canadians aged 65 or over said they felt a lack of companionship, left out or isolated from others.
As I said before, social isolation is complex and pervasive. But it is also preventable.
That’s why we are taking coordinated action to tackle this issue head on.
We are collaborating to align the priorities of the National Seniors Council and the New Horizons for Seniors Program to work together to address the social isolation of seniors.
I am also pleased to say that the Forum of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors has chosen to explore the issue of social isolation as a priority for this upcoming year.
Last year, the National Seniors Council was asked to assess the impact of social isolation on seniors in Canada and explore ways to prevent or reduce it.
The Council consulted over 300 stakeholders, including seniors, community organizations and academics, and presented a report on their key findings. If you have not yet had an opportunity to review this excellent report, together with a companion review of relevant literature on this issue, I would encourage you to do so.
The report highlighted the importance of working with those who deliver services and programs directly to seniors.
This year, I have asked the Council to continue their work on this issue and further examine barriers that prevent communities and seniors from reaching out to each other.
And I have asked them to examine ways to encourage communities to reach out to socially isolated seniors in their neighborhoods.
Friends, we want to help communities to build stronger relationships with socially isolated seniors in their midst.
And by bringing Canadian citizens, volunteers, organizations and seniors together, we will reduce the social isolation of seniors in their communities.
Along with the National Seniors Council, and the New Horizons for Seniors Program, the Forum of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors has also made social isolation one of its main priorities for this upcoming year.
This Forum brings together Ministers, Deputy Ministers and senior officials from the federal, provincial and territorial governments who are collaborating to promote the interests of Canadian seniors.
By collaborating together, we are working to find innovative solutions to address social isolation among seniors, including those living in rural and remote communities.
I look forward to sharing our progress on the Forum’s activities with you.
Next, I would like to talk about the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
The vast majority of the New Horizons for Seniors Program is devoted to community‑based grants of up to $25,000. This year we will fund more than 1,800 of these grants in communities from coast to coast to coast.
However, a much smaller portion of the New Horizons for Seniors Program is devoted to larger projects with a longer duration. These are sometimes called “pan‑Canadian” grants, and they are typically connected by a broad theme, such as elder abuse.
Last year, we did a call for proposals for pilot projects on the issue of social isolation, and we learned a great deal. We increased the upper limit of the contribution agreements, and in appropriate circumstances we allowed them to be funded into a second or third year. We also began to incorporate some of the elements of what is sometimes called “social innovation” into the process—such as fund leveraging and sustainability planning.
The results have been very good, but disconnected. What I mean by that is that each of these good projects has proceeded independently of each other. They have not had the benefit of sharing what they have learned, nor have their efforts been in any way coordinated. The result is that, while again I must stress that the pilot projects have been very good individually, their collective social impact is modest.
But that is why we run pilot projects—to learn how to improve.
And today I am pleased to announce that for the next five years, at least, the broad theme of the pan-Canadian stream of the New Horizons for Seniors Program will be focused upon reducing the social isolation of seniors in their immediate communities.
I am also pleased to announce that we will be working with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. The McConnell Foundation, and their Innoweave initiative, will work with the Government to bring together successful applicants in a sharing network, to measure progress against established metrics, to gather what we learn and to suggest adjustments along the way.
The McConnell Foundation and its Social Innovation Generation partners will also provide advice to the Government in the context of the selection process, with a view to curating the projects to maximize social impact.
We are very excited about this new partnership. I am hoping to see more applications for projects that show the creativity and flexibility I have mentioned.
We are hoping to see projects that take new approaches—or that take old ones and use them in new ways.
We are hoping to see projects that are challenging us to use the considerable wealth of knowledge, tools and compassion we have at our disposal so that we can do something great. And to do it in a way we haven’t tried before.
It is time to shake up our existing ideas and approaches and let some new ones in.
It is time to allow ourselves to approach issues in different ways.
And it might mean flipping some ideas on their heads to be able to see them differently.
And it absolutely means opening ourselves up to creativity, flexibility and the willingness to look for inspiration everywhere—even if it’s outside our discipline.
Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Therefore, as leaders, innovation is more than an asset quality—it’s a requirement.
I expect many of you may be thinking that this isn’t an area where big bureaucracies excel.
And, in some ways, you’d be right.
Which is why I’m excited that our Government is playing a leading role in bringing together partners from various sectors.
Social innovation succeeds by combining resources from governments, businesses, community organizations and academics to generate new ideas and tools that address social problems in new ways.
What we are trying to do is bring together the various citizens, volunteers, organizations and governments—that are separately seeking to address this issue—and try to facilitate a more coordinated approach, with a view to increasing our collective effectiveness in tackling this complex social problem.
As Minister of State responsible for Seniors, I want to see all Canadian seniors enjoy a high quality of life. And richness of life cannot occur in solitude and isolation from one’s community. We are inherently relational. We are born into communities and we cannot live without them.
Whereas in generations past, the elderly would live together with their adult children, and enjoy their fellowship each day—this is no longer our culture. Tragically, a growing number of seniors live alone, cut off from their neighbors—despite their geographical proximity.
The fact is that the social isolation of Canada’s seniors is nothing less than a tragedy, with real consequences for our society, young and old alike.
But friends, this is a problem that can be solved. The medicine is community. The medicine is fellowship. Cups of tea, visits, walks, conversations.
On a grassroots level, in our communities, it is really a question of knowing who our neighbours are, and acting like Canadians—by taking a little time to check in on seniors living alone in our immediate communities. How to affect that outcome is our present task.
Working together, with all of the creativity and innovation that we collectively possess, I am confident that we can make progress in addressing this complex problem, and bring light and life into the lives of socially isolated seniors.
January 20, 2015– Toronto, Ontario – Employment and Social Development Canada
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), announced today the release of the Employer Panel for Caregivers’ report called When Work and Caregiving Collide – How Employers Can Support their Employees Who Are Caregivers. The report highlights best workplace practices that many employers offer to their employees who provide informal care to family and friends, and it includes a toolbox of valuable information and resources for employers.
The Minister, together with the Panel Chair, Stephen Shea, and Panel members, made the announcement the day before the 2015 Human Resources Professionals Association Annual Conference, which is taking place January 21 to 23 in Toronto.
Following Economic Action Plan 2014, the Minister launched the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan and established the Employer Panel for Caregivers to consult with employers on workplace practices that support the needs of employees caring for a loved one. The Panel consulted over 100 employers from across Canada before releasing its findings and insights contained in the report.
Helping employees balance work with their caregiving responsibilities will have a positive impact on the Canadian economy by decreasing costs, such as impact on job performance, absenteeism and productivity, for their employers.
- There are currently 6.1 million employed Canadians, or 35 percent of our workforce, providing care to a family member or friend.
- According to the Conference Board of Canada, the annual cost of lost productivity to Canadian employers is $1.3 billion.
- Informal caregiving refers to unpaid care provided to a family member or friend due to chronic or long-term illness, disability or aging and does not include short-term care for minor illnesses such as colds or flu, or everyday caring for children.
- In addition to the creation of the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan, the Government of Canada offers unpaid family caregivers a variety of supports, including tax credits such as the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, targeted measures for specific populations (i.e. veterans and military forces), the Information for Caregivers portal on the seniors.gc.ca website and funding for research and community-based initiatives.
“I would like to thank the Employer Panel for Caregivers for their comprehensive report providing employers with best practices, tools and resources to support their employees who are balancing both work and caregiving. Supporting a flexible workplace benefits both the employee and the employer by increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism. Through the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan, our Government is committed to helping employees participate in the workforce and care for their loved ones.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)
“On behalf of the Employer Panel for Caregivers, I would like to say it was a pleasure to engage and consult with employers on a topic which presents unique circumstances for both employers and employees. We are hoping this report can help to raise awareness of this issue and that the information and tools provided in the report can assist small, medium and large-sized organizations to better support the growing number of employees balancing work and caregiving.”
– Stephen Shea, Chair of the Employer Panel for Caregivers
Office of the Minister of State (Seniors)
The Employer Panel for Caregivers is comprised of industry leaders from small, medium and large-sized businesses, as well as expert advisors on caregiving. The Panel consulted with over 100 employers from across Canada. During these consultations, employers identified promising workplace practices that support the needs of working caregivers to help them balance the competing demands of caregiving while working, such as conflicting working hours, lack of flexibility and lost wages or benefits.
Many caregivers struggle to balance their work and care responsibilities, resulting in negative employment consequences. For example, in 2012:
- nearly 600,000 employee caregivers indicated in the General Social Survey that they reduced their regular working hours over the past 12 months;
- approximately 1.6 million employee caregivers took leave from work over the prior year;
- about 160,000 caregivers turned down paid employment during the past year due to caregiving; and
- approximately 390,000 caregivers indicated that they had to leave their job at some point in their career in order to provide care.
The Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan also includes the development of business cases analyzing the cost-benefit of existing workplace supports and the exploration of mechanisms for sustained employer engagement in this area.
The Panel’s members
The Employer Panel for Caregivers includes the following members and expert advisors:
Stephen Shea (Ernst and Young LLP)
Lucie Chagnon (Median Solutions)
Rachelle Gagnon (Assumption Life Insurance)
Shannon MacDonald (Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canada)
Karen Ritchie (Home Depot Canada)
Caterina Sanders (Habanero Consulting Group)
Vickie Cammack (Founder, Tyze Personal Networks)
Janice Keefe (Nova Scotia Centre on Aging, Mount Saint Vincent University)
The Panel’s report is available on seniors.gc.ca. Additional information and resources for caregivers are provided on the Information for Caregivers portal on the site.
Minister of State Wong announces new research network to help Canadian seniors live independently and safely
Toronto-based AGE-WELL network will look to new technology for better senior care
January 19, 2015 – Toronto, Ontario – Industry Canada
Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), on behalf of her colleague, the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), today announced that AGE-WELL, a new network, is receiving $36.6 million over five years to help seniors live independently and safely at home.
Through a collaborative approach with industry partners, not-for-profit organizations and researchers, AGE-WELL will identify the needs of seniors and find ways to reduce the burden on their caregivers. The network will use advanced technology such as mobile communications, smart sensors and robotics to help achieve this goal. AGE-WELL will contribute to increasing the independence and quality of life of older Canadians while creating more affordable technologies that meet Canadians’ needs.
Today’s investment is the result of the most recent competition in the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. The competition resulted in four new networks receiving funding, which includes AGE-WELL, and one existing network being renewed for a second five-year term.
NCEs mobilize a critical mass of expertise from across the country, bringing together health, natural and social scientists as well as engineers. Partners from industry, government and the not-for-profit sector contribute additional expertise and support.
- On December 15, 2014, the Government of Canada named five research networks to conduct groundbreaking research that is focused on addressing major social, economic, or health- and life sciences–related issues:
- Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement, and Long Life—AGE-WELL (Toronto, Ontario)
- Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment—BioCanRX (Ottawa, Ontario)
- Canadian Glycomics Network—GlycoNet (Edmonton, Alberta)
- Canadian Arrhythmia Network—CANet (London, Ontario)
- NeuroDevNet (Vancouver, British Columbia)
- With these new grants, the Networks of Centres of Excellence program currently funds 14 networks.
- Recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered on the government’s commitment to provide an updated science, technology and innovation strategy. The strategy, Seizing Canada’s Moment, is a vision and a road map for strengthening Canada’s position as a global leader in scientific research while looking to harness greater Canadian innovations that create jobs, increase prosperity and improve the quality of life of Canadians.
“Through our updated science, technology and innovation strategy, our government is making the necessary investments to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs and prosperity, and improve the quality of life of Canadians. The newest Networks of Centres of Excellence will undertake research in the important areas of biochemistry, cancer, arrhythmia, aging and brain development, leveraging nationwide talent and resources to tackle social and economic challenges that are important to Canadians.”
– Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology)
“Our government is committed to investing in world-class research networks, including AGE-WELL, which will develop new technologies to help seniors live independently and safely at home. These investments will improve the quality of life of Canadians and contribute to the creation of a stronger, more innovative economy and a more prosperous Canada.”
– Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)
“AGE-WELL will join the impressive lineup of NCEs that are already helping drive innovation in Canada by bringing together the brightest researchers and a wide range of partners. This new network offers a great opportunity for top researchers in aging to explore how we can use technology to improve the quality of life of seniors.”
– Michel Perron, Vice-President, External Affairs and Business Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
“We need new tools, devices and solutions in the marketplace that will help older adults remain at home in their later years. AGE-WELL represents a cohesive approach to developing those tools and to establishing Canada as a leader in designing and implementing technology that contributes significantly to the well-being of older people and caregivers.”
– Alex Mihailidis, Joint Scientific Director, AGE-WELL
“AGE-WELL will work closely with end-users—older people and caregivers—industry partners, not-for-profit organizations and the country’s top researchers and research institutions, including Simon Fraser University and our friends at Toronto Rehab. We will identify the needs of aging people and develop solutions to help them live more independently and safely at home while reducing the burden on their caregivers.”
– Andrew Sixsmith, Joint Scientific Director, AGE-WELL
Residents of Vancouver contributed their views to pre-budget consultations
January 16, 2015 – Vancouver, British Columbia
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) and Member of Parliament for Richmond, today hosted one of a series of cross-country pre-budget roundtable discussions. The purpose of these consultations is to listen to Canadians and hear their views on how Canada can create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. This formal process comes after months of meetings with Canadians about what matters to them and their families.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver launched these consultations November 27 with a clear message. First, the Government will not engage in reckless new spending or new taxes that will lead Canada down a path of fiscal deficits and economic decline. Second, the Government will remain focused on creating jobs and growth.
All Canadians will be able to participate through online consultations. The Government is seeking the input of Canadians on five key questions that can be found by clicking on the following link: http://www.fin.gc.ca/news-nouvelles/nr-nc/2014/prebudget-prebudgetaire-eng.asp.
- Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, our Government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.
- We are on track to balance the federal budget in 2015.
- With balanced budgets in sight, the Harper Government is delivering close to $27 billion in tax relief for hard-working families over this year and the next five years, by:
o Increasing and expanding the Universal Child Care Benefit
o Introducing the Family Tax Cut
o Increasing the Child Care Expense Deduction dollar limits
- Canada’s Economic Action Plan is working:
o Since the depths of the recession, we have created more than 1.2 million net new jobs—overwhelmingly full-time, good-paying jobs in the private sector.
o The overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in over 50 years.
o Bloomberg ranks Canada the second most attractive place in the world to do business.
“Today’s roundtable is part of a larger series of consultations that will inform future Government policy and help our government create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, while ensuring the best use of taxpayers’ money. I’m particularly interested in hearing about how the Government can better support seniors in maintaining a high quality of life and continuing to be active members of their communities.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), Member of Parliament for Richmond.
January 16, 2015– Vancouver, British Columbia – Employment and Social Development Canada
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), today announced the launch of a new initiative to work with community organizations to ensure seniors receive their retirement benefits.
Minister Wong renewed the Government of Canada’s commitment to reach the most vulnerable seniors, such as those who are incapable of managing their own affairs while they are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The Government is undertaking targeted efforts, by working with community organizations, to increase their capacity to assist these seniors and ensure they receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for which they are eligible. These seniors can now receive their CPP or OAS benefits through an appropriate community organization, including non-profit or charitable organizations, and municipalities.
The announcement was made at Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission, which provides outreach services to vulnerable residents. Services include emergency shelter, meals, education and job preparation, affordable housing and preventative programs to build healthy families.
- The Government of Canada is committed to the well-being of Canada’s seniors by working with all levels of government, seniors’ organizations and stakeholders to develop policies and programs to support seniors.
- The OAS program and the CPP enhance the quality of life of Canadian seniors by providing a modest base upon which to build additional income for retirement.
- The OAS program is funded through general tax revenues and provides a basic monthly income for Canadian seniors. In 2013–14, approximately $41.8 billion in OAS benefits were provided to 5.4 million individuals.
- The CPP (or the Quebec Pension Plan in Quebec) is funded through contributions by Canadian workers, their employers and the self-employed and through investment earnings on the Plan’s funds. In addition to retirement benefits, the Plan provides disability, death, survivor and children’s benefits.
“The Government of Canada is dedicated to reaching seniors to ensure they receive the CPP and OAS benefits for which they are eligible. We are working with other levels of government, communities and organizations to help the most vulnerable seniors, particularly those who are not able to manage their own affairs while they are homeless or at risk of being homeless.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)
“In light of the growing number of homeless and vulnerable seniors in our community, this announcement couldn’t come at a better time. We are pleased that the Government of Canada has not only recognized this troubling problem, but that it has taken strategic action. Union Gospel Mission helps hundreds of seniors each year, dozens of whom had barriers to accessing pensions and disability funding; this initiative will enable additional organizations to more widely and effectively assist one of Canada’s most cherished resources—our seniors.”
– Dan Russell, Director of Programs, Union Gospel Mission
”This is a really valuable tool to help front-line organizations ensure vulnerable seniors can access critical financial resources. Being able to access Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits can make all the difference in the world to a low-income senior.”
– Tim Richter, President & CEO, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness
December 22, 2014 – Gatineau, Quebec – Employment and Social Development Canada
As 2014 comes to an end, the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), reflected on some of the key achievements of the Government of Canada in supporting and promoting seniors’ well-being and in encouraging seniors to stay active, engaged and informed.
This year, Minister Wong unveiled the first ever Government of Canada Action for Seniors report, highlighting federal programs and services across the federal government that can be accessed by seniors, their families, and caregivers.
Additionally this summer, Minister Wong launched the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan which included establishing of the Employer Panel for Caregivers, as well as a new portal on seniors.gc.ca which provides in-depth information specifically for caregivers. The Government of Canada also provides support for caregivers through the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, and the Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit.
In October, Minister Wong co-chaired the 16th meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors, where ministers committed to share information and best practices, and to work collaboratively as champions of seniors’ issues. This year, Ministers agreed to work on innovative solutions to combat social isolation among seniors, as well as to develop ways to increase caregiver readiness.
The Government of Canada continued to make combating elder abuse, including financial abuse, a priority through a variety of actions such as funding for elder abuse awareness projects.
The Government remains committed to strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians and in November, the Honourable Kevin Sorenson, Minister of State (Finance) released the report Strengthening Seniors’ Financial Literacy after working collaboratively with Minister Wong throughout the year. In addition, an improved user friendly Canadian Retirement Income Calculator now provides retirement income estimates in a matter of minutes.
In September, Minister Wong participated in the G7 Global Dementia Legacy Event in Ottawa, where international leaders gathered to discuss Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, which represent a growing health challenge for Canada and other global partners.
Last month, the National Seniors Council released its Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors – 2013-2014. The report presents consultation findings and innovative practices to help address social isolation. Earlier this fall, the Government of Canada approved 24 New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) pilot projects—representing an investment of more than $1.7 million—aimed at addressing seniors’ social isolation.
Moving forward, the Government remains committed to improving the well-being and quality of life of seniors. Areas of priority for the Minister will continue to include reducing social isolation, improving seniors’ access to information and helping Canadians who are balancing work and caregiving responsibilities.
For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing for seniors, please visit seniors.gc.ca.
- Since 2006, the Government supported seniors through: introducing pension income splitting, increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement, investing in the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers and increasing funding to community-based projects for seniors.
- Economic Action Plan 2014 increased funding for the NHSP by $5 million per year, in addition to the $45 million provided on an ongoing basis. Since 2006, the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) has funded more than 13,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada. NHSP funding supports projects that focus on issues like elder abuse, social isolation and intergenerational learning.
- In Budget 2014, the Government of Canada committed to launch the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan to engage with employers on cost-effective workplace solutions to help maximize caregivers’ labour force participation.
“I am very proud of the work we’ve done over the past year to help seniors maintain a high quality of life and remain active members of their communities. We will continue to support seniors and their families. I invite you to visit seniors.gc.ca and read our new report Government of Canada: Action for Seniors to find out more about the scope of benefits, services and opportunities available to seniors.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)