Richmond Centre Electoral District
The following videos are Alice Wong’s response to the Throne Speech given on January 26, 2016 in the House of Commons. Her speech was divided into two parts, as Members’ Statements and Question Period was scheduled approximately 6 minutes after her speech began.
The following is a transcript:
Hon. Alice Wong (Richmond Centre, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the voters from the Richmond Centre electoral district, who have once again placed their trust in me to be their representative. This is the third time that I have been fortunate to be elected and it is always a privilege to speak on behalf of my constituents, previously for the Richmond electoral district and today for Richmond Centre.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my supporters and volunteers in Richmond and, most important, my husband Enoch. His encouragement, support, and sacrifice have made my endeavours in Ottawa possible.
At around 8 p.m. on election day, one of the major television networks declared my defeat and, hence, my early retirement. It took another couple of hours for Elections Canada to count the rest of the ballots and, fortunately, I am here today to talk about it.
That very evening, one of my constituents sent me a line by a famous author, Mark Twain. It states, “…the report of my death was an exaggeration…”. Here I am today to tell my constituents that I will be holding the Liberal government to account as part of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
I would like to comment on the throne speech and discuss some of the issues I have heard in my conversations with many of my constituents from Richmond Centre.
I have been assigned the role of critic for small business. In the Richmond Centre electoral district, small businesses are a huge engine of job creation. Whether it is in top in the world restaurants, tourism, or import and export businesses, my riding is full of people who are either owners or employees of such businesses.
International trade, especially with Pacific Rim countries, is of major economic concern to my constituents because they are right in the Pacific gateway of the nation. This is why proceeding with the trans-Pacific partnership, the TPP, and continuing to implement free trade agreements is economically beneficial. Of note was the free trade agreement that our Conservative government signed with South Korea, which will stimulate economic activity for both countries and will create jobs in the Vancouver area and across Canada.
Equally important is maintaining a low-tax burden for small businesses. The Conservative government, through Bill C-59 in the last Parliament, reduced the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, to be phased in over the next four years. I call on the new Liberal government to maintain this prudent measure, which will strengthen the job-creating small business sector.
Let us now look at the throne speech again to see if it talked about business. How many times did we see the word “business” in the throne speech? None; zero. How many times did we see the word “employment” in the throne speech? Only once, in reference to the employment insurance system, when people receive benefits for not working, whether through losing their jobs, sickness benefits, or maternity leave.
Speaking of employment insurance, we will also be watching very carefully the impact of increased payroll taxes on small businesses, which create jobs. Increased payroll taxes represent a real cost to businesses. Lower costs will create an environment for more jobs.
The throne speech does not mention how the private sector will be supported, whether with lower taxes, a reduction in red tape, training, or other measures that will encourage job creation and economic activity.
Indeed, it is disturbing to see the government going in the exact opposite direction, where a large government will be causing large deficits, large deficits will accumulate large debts, and large debts will increase the interest and expenses the government will have to pay. We all know who pays the government’s bills. It is the taxpayer who will be paying for these upcoming Liberal deficits. This upsets a lot of people.
The Deputy Speaker:
Order, please. The hon. member for Richmond Centre will have four and a half minutes when the House next resumes business on this particular question.
… [after Members’ Statements and Question Period] …
Resuming debate. The member for Richmond Centre has four minutes.
Hon. Alice Wong (Richmond Centre, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will continue.
Before the interruption for statements and question period, I had talked about the impact of increasing Liberal deficits and government debts. This upsets a lot of people in Richmond Centre who, for the most part, are fiscally conservative and live within their means. For all the preaching the Liberals give to environmental sustainability, one would also hope that their financial measures would also be accountable and sustainable. However, it is evident they will not be, despite the fact that the Auditor General clearly showed that we, the former Conservative government, left our last full year in government with a surplus.
There was one other significant issue that came up during the recent election campaign, about which a huge number of my constituents talked to me, and that was the Liberal plan to legalize marijuana. Unlike any references to businesses, marijuana was mentioned in the throne speech. I will quote directly from the throne speech:
…the Government will introduce legislation…that will legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
I will plainly state for the record that many constituents in Richmond Centre, including me, are against the legalization of marijuana, and I made our policy on this matter very clear during the election. As the representative for Richmond Centre, I will be watching the government’s proposed response to this very carefully.
This concludes my comments. I will close by saying that it is indeed good to be back in the House of Commons, representing my constituents and serving our great country, Canada.
Christmas Greetings from Alice Wong:
The following is a transcript:
Hi, I’m Alice Wong, MP For Richmond Centre. For many Canadians the holiday season is a time to come together and great family and friends celebrate faith and share with those less fortunate. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the year that has passed and also look forward to the year ahead. It is with this sentiment that I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very prosperous New Year in 2016!
On December 11, 2015, Alice Wong asked a question about Small Business during question period. The following is a transcript:
Hon. Alice Wong (Richmond Centre, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister stated during the campaign that a large percentage of small businesses were nothing more than tax havens for wealthy Canadians trying to evade taxes. The Minister of Small Business and Tourism is now turning that statement into official government policy.
How can the minister justify going after small and medium-sized business owners to pay for the finance minister’s deficit?
Hon. Bardish Chagger (Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it is both an honour and a privilege to stand in the House. I would like to thank the good people of the riding of Waterloo for having me here to represent them.
As Minister of Small Business and Tourism, I am committed to representing small businesses across this nation. I will be working closely with the Minister of Finance to ensure that our commitment to lower the tax burden on small businesses is fulfilled. Not only will we be doing that but we will be working with small businesses because we know that they are job creators, they are the economic drivers of our nation. We will continue to work with them wholeheartedly. I look forward— [Note: Speaker ran out of time]
On November 9, 2015, Alice Wong was sworn in as the Member of Parliament (Richmond Centre) in Ottawa.
On December 3, 2015, the first session of the 42nd Parliament is scheduled to open.
On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General, by proclamation on Sunday, August 2, 2015, dissolved the 41st Parliament and gave instructions to issue writs of election. Monday, October 19, 2015, has been set as the polling day and the writs of election are to be returned by Monday, November 9, 2015.
For information on the election process, please consult the Elections Canada Web site.
July 31, 2015 – Richmond, British Columbia – Western Economic Diversification Canada
Today, the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State for Seniors and Member of Parliament for Richmond, on behalf of the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced support of $556,200 for four projects under the Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.
In Economic Action Plan 2015, the Government of Canada announced further support for communities with the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Thanks to a commitment of $150 million, communities from coast to coast to coast will see support for improvements to local infrastructure, creating a lasting legacy as Canada prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program will help fund renovations, expansions and rehabilitations to existing infrastructure that provides community and cultural benefits for the public. The Program represents one of several infrastructure-related initiatives that the Government of Canada has undertaken to generate well-being and prosperity across Canada.
- The four projects being announced today total $556,200 in funding under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, and will help improve existing community infrastructure in Richmond.
- The national Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program provides $150 million over two years to be delivered by regional development agencies across the country. It is part of the federal government’s activities to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. Western Economic Diversification Canada is responsible for the distribution of $46,200,000 over two years for Western Canada.
“Our Government’s investments across the West are helping to build stronger communities and create jobs. As we look towards the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we are helping all Canadians celebrate this important milestone, while leaving a lasting legacy of improved local infrastructure.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State for Seniors, and Member of Parliament for Richmond
“The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program will create many legacies for Richmond residents in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. The four projects approved will help improve accessibility and safety, and enhance community sustainability at the Richmond Olympic Oval, contribute to healthy lifestyles through the Garratt Wellness Centre, and support community literacy and access to information through the Richmond Public Library. Our thanks to the Government of Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada for supporting us in moving these projects forward.”
– His Worship Malcolm Brodie, Mayor of Richmond
British Columbia Projects being launched today:
Canada 150 Funding Amount
|City of Richmond||Renovate the main library in the City of Richmond to create a digital services launchpad||$65,000|
|City of Richmond||Upgrade the Garratt Wellness Centre||$191,000|
|City of Richmond||Upgrade the accessibility and fire safety systems at the Richmond Olympic Oval||$50,100|
|City of Richmond||Upgrade to energy efficient LED lighting at the Richmond Olympic Oval||$250,100|
July 28, 2015 Toronto, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada
Good afternoon everyone.
I would like to start off by thanking MaRS Discovery District for having us today. I also want to thank Mr. Goldthorp from Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation of Toronto and Ms. McEwen from Innoweave for their remarks and partnership with us for this exciting announcement. And of course, thank you to Dr. Andrew Wister, and his colleagues from the National Seniors Council, for setting the stage for today’s announcement.
I am delighted to be here today to share some good news for seniors in the Greater Toronto Area.
As Minister of State for Seniors, it is my duty to work with partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors to address seniors’ issues under the federal purview.
When we talk about older Canadians, it is easy to get stuck on the word “seniors.”
We must remember who they really are.
They are the Canadians who shaped the country we know today. It is all too easy to take them and their contribution to Canada for granted. We are indebted to them.
In their time, they were the stewards of our country. They built it and preserved it, and held it in trust for this generation, just as we do now for generations to come. We owe them a debt of gratitude and respect.
I am delighted to be making this announcement today. And I would like to take a moment to put today’s announcement in the context of the work that we have done over the past four years. Many of our files have built upon each other. And in a sense, the place where we find ourselves today in the area of seniors policy after four years can be regarded as a natural progression from where we began.
First, information: it is critical.
Very early on we heard from Canadians that many citizens are confused about what the different levels of government do, and are struggling to access needed, basic information.
In response, we developed the Information for Seniors and Information for Caregiver web portals which are located at Canada.ca/Seniors.
Using an interactive map of Canada, these two web portals provide links to federal, provincial and municipal programs and services.
This was done collaboratively with my colleagues, the Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting with on four occasions over the past four years.
The interactive map and portals we created at Canada.ca/seniors illustrate visually something important about the nature of seniors and aging as an area of public policy analysis.
Seniors policy is inherently interdisciplinary.
Issues affecting Canadian seniors fall within the scope of many federal departments and agencies.
While the Office of the Minister of State for Seniors is located within Employment and Social Development Canada—part of my job is to work collaboratively with other federal cabinet ministers with respect to issues affecting Canada’s seniors.
I have found that to do the work of Seniors Policy, one of the basic requirements is to bring together information and perspectives relevant to seniors from across all of government, and assess it holistically.
Sometimes this work requires mediating complex relationships that exist within and between these larger departments and agencies across government. This can be a difficult task for public officials working in the area of seniors policy.
Depending on the issue, the relevant expertise and policy authorities may reside in another department altogether, while the holistic mandate to do seniors policy analysis is located at Employment and Social Development Canada.
This presents challenges and calls for collaborative approaches to doing the work of seniors policy.
Last year we published the Government of Canada – Action for Seniors report. The premise of this report was simple. Gather together, in one document, the various activities of the federal government that pertain, in one way or another, to seniors. We are very pleased with the result.
Employment and Social Development Canada chairs an interdepartmental committee which brings together representatives from over 23 federal departments and agencies and serves as a focal point for the wide range of disciplines affected by seniors’ issues. It was the work of that table that allowed us to produce the Action for Seniors report.
The Report has been warmly received by Canadians. But, separate from the report itself, I would add that the process of producing the report was helpful for us as it provided a focal point for a comprehensive examination of seniors policy federally.
So, the lesson I learned is that seniors policy is interdisciplinary, comprised of many sources from across government, and that to address seniors’ issues, effort is required to bring together and assess all of the relevant inputs within government.
This is not an easy task, but in my view, it is an essential one.
I am also pleased to announce that a new centre of expertise in the area of Elder Law within Employment and Social Development Canada is now under development.
Currently, the area of Elder Law touches upon many areas of law, including wills, estates, trusts, substitute decision making, estate planning, health care, consent law, long term care and other housing laws, consumer law, criminal law, real estate, pensions and benefits, veterans and more. We are also in the midst of the biggest intergenerational transfer of wealth in Canadian history, which will affect the law of business associations and in particular small businesses.
The development of legal and policy expertise in the area of Elder Law will be an essential element to the Government’s ongoing work in the area of seniors policy in the years ahead.
It will also provide a useful point of contact federally for the growing number of dedicated legal practitioners in this growing area of law.
In 2014, I was pleased to appoint Dr. Andrew Wister as Chair of the National Seniors Council.
In November of last year, the National Seniors Council released its report entitled “Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors.” This report was particularly significant in bringing to light the issue of social isolation among Canada’s seniors.
Social isolation can be defined as “a low quantity and quality of contact with others.” Social isolation is different than loneliness, which is the subjective perception of a lack of interaction or contact with others. Rather, a situation of social isolation involves few social contacts and few social roles, as well as the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.
The impact of social isolation on seniors is very troubling. Some of the key findings of the report illustrate the unique challenges and risks that social isolation can place upon seniors.
Social isolation can cause a lack of social cohesion and risks the permanent loss of the valuable social contributions that seniors make to their communities.
Socially isolated seniors are more likely to be at risk of harms such as elder abuse, including financial abuse and fraud.
They are also more likely to experience mental health challenges such as depression, social anxiety, loneliness and addictions. Social isolation is correlated to dementia, as well.
On the other hand, it is clear that quality contact with a community or a network of support can have a profound impact on the livelihood, mental and physical health and well-being of seniors, as well as the prosperity of local communities.
The report of the National Seniors Council identified a number of measures that may help to reduce the social isolation of seniors.
One of the primary recommendations was for the federal government to assist with the collective capacity-building of organizations to address the social isolation of seniors.
This report has in turn led us to consider new and innovative ways the New Horizons for Seniors Program might support the work of a wide variety of organizations in attempting to address this complex issue.
And that brings us to today, here at MaRS Discovery District. We chose MaRS for today’s announcement because it exemplifies what innovation and collaboration can achieve.
Since MaRS was established in 2005, it has sought to contribute to social prosperity by catalyzing partnership and innovative thought. MaRS represents the intersections of innovation and partnership. Bringing together corporate, small business, government, academic and research sectors, MaRS works to equip organizations with innovative methodologies and strategic partnerships to help maximize organizations’ societal impact.
The recent call for proposals for pan-Canadian projects supports social innovation principles and signifies a dynamic new way of addressing issues like social isolation among seniors.
This approach calls for various groups, such as local governments, businesses, community organizations and academics, to come together to collectively solve specific challenges faced by seniors.
For this call for proposals, we partnered with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and its Innoweave initiative.
Organizations applying for funding were asked to develop an impact plan encompassing a group of projects that would tackle social isolation through their collective efforts focused in a particular geographic area.
With over 200 project proposals received, I was very pleased to see such an overwhelming response to this call.
Today I am pleased to announce the first successful proposal of many. I want to be very clear to the many other applicants that decisions on all applications will be taken in due course.
So, I am delighted to announce funding of close to a combined $3.7 million for six Toronto organizations who will join forces to create the ENRICHES Collective Impact Plan.
ENRICHES stands for Engagement to Reduce Isolation of Caregivers at Home and Enhancing Seniors.
These organizations will be sharing their insights and expertise and focusing their collective efforts on achieving integrated project goals.
As project partners, they will enhance the GTA community’s capacity to reduce social isolation among seniors who are also caregivers.
Seniors who are caregivers—often to their spouse—are often at great risk of social isolation. Isolation can set in gradually, sometimes without notice.
Together, with a common vision, these partners will work to identify caregiving seniors who are at risk of social isolation. ENRICHES will help to assist caregiving seniors and seek to prevent social isolation through awareness-raising of key risks, public outreach, educational programming and targeted outreach among diverse communities across the GTA.
The overall impact of their concerted efforts will have far-reaching benefits for local seniors and for the existing network of other GTA seniors-serving organizations.
Project partners include the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation of Toronto; the Sinai Health System – The Reitman Centre; WoodGreen Community Services; the Alzheimer Society of Toronto; the Canadian Mental Health Association; and North York Community House.
These organizations have a vested interest in addressing the needs of seniors and in supporting isolated caregivers who are seniors—seniors who face the complex challenges of loneliness and isolation that the tremendous responsibility of caregiving can bring.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is just the beginning. In the months to come, other projects from across Canada submitted during the recent Call will be receiving funding.
Over the next 5 years, these pan-Canadian New Horizons projects will focus on measurably reducing social isolation among seniors and will have a tangible impact on older Canadians through creating social connections, strengthening social bonds and building a sense of community.
The Government of Canada has also adopted this approach of innovation and collaboration, working with the private sector, communities and not-for-profit organizations over the past four years on a number of initiatives to enhance the lives of seniors.
Working with the private sector
Last June I launched the Canadian Employer Panel for Caregivers. The panel consisted of representatives from small-, medium- and large-size businesses across the country, including Johnson & Johnson, Ernst & Young and Home Depot.
The panel was launched with the goal of starting a national discussion on employee caregivers in the work place. There are currently 6.1 million Canadians, or 35 percent of our work force providing care to a family member or friend. The Conference Board of Canada estimates the annual cost of lost productivity to Canadian employers due to caregiving responsibilities is close to $1.3 billion.
The Panel consulted with businesses of all sizes across the country on the issue and their work culminated in the release of an excellent report entitled, “When Work and Caregiving Collide” in January of this year.
The report contains their findings, with practical resources that companies of all sizes can use in assessing the business impact of caregiving and how flexible workplace practices can help them retain their best and brightest talent.
Today’s project announcement tackles the issue of caregiving from a different perspective—for the isolation that it can produce.
Working with provinces
Through the Forum of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors, we’re doing a tremendous amount of work to address social isolation.
Collaboration is key.
Through this forum, not only do we share promising approaches, but we’re also encouraging organizations and communities to work together to engage socially isolated seniors through innovative projects and help reduce and prevent social isolation.
Working with communities
I would also like to touch on the issue of homeless seniors in the context of the need for innovative approaches to complex problems.
Homelessness among the elderly is troubling, particularly for those with mental illness or impairment who may be incapable of applying for Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits.
Last Friday, I announced the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program. Our Government is committed to ensuring that homeless seniors receive the CPP, OAS and GIS benefits they are eligible for.
We are working closely with front-line organizations to reach and support Canada’s most vulnerable seniors.
Thanks to this program, community organizations, such as the Salvation Army, can apply to act as third-party administrators of these benefits for homeless seniors.
A third-party administrator could be a non-profit or registered charitable organization, or a municipality.
As a third-party administrator, qualified organizations and municipalities can apply for and receive CPP and OAS benefits on behalf of a senior they serve and represent, to use the benefits in the best interest of that person.
Those without a home should not have to, and no longer will have to, lose out on this income.
Through this innovative program, by working collaboratively with non-profit and charitable organizations and municipalities to deliver these benefits, we’re doing all we can to make sure no one falls through the cracks.
I am grateful for your patience today in allowing me to take a little extra time to place today’s announcement in context.
I have tried in a short span of time to summarize four years of work:
- our information for seniors and information for caregiver web portals;
- our ongoing work in developing a methodology for seniors policy analysis that recognizes that it is an inherently interdisciplinary area of public policy, which requires the hard work of holistic analysis from across all of government in order to be coherent;
- the development of social isolation as a focus of our work over the next 5 years, which is reflected in the NHSP program and our partnership with J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and Innoweave, as well as the work of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors, and of course the work and report of the National Seniors Council, which in many respects represents the foundation of much of this work;
- the work of the Canadian Employers Panel for Caregivers;
- the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program;
- and, of course today’s wonderful announcement of ENRICHES, which will be led by Mount Sinai Hospital, and its partners.
We are on the cusp of the most profound demographic shift in Canadian history. What unites all of this work is the need to take a holistic approach to seniors issues that unites many subject areas and disciplines, and people engaged in this work in many different ways; and working together, to think and act with creativity and with innovation, and with the determination to tackle the challenges that lie ahead for all of us.
It has been my very great privilege to do this work.
July 24, 2015 Ottawa, Ontario Employment and Social Development Canada
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), was pleased today to highlight the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts with organizations such as The Salvation Army, to help improve the lives of seniors across the country.
Through programs such as the new Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Government of Canada is committed to helping vulnerable seniors—particularly those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and who are incapable of managing their own affairs—to receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for which they are eligible.
The Government is undertaking targeted efforts, working closely with municipalities, community organizations and front-line outreach and service providers, to increase their capacity to assist seniors who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Through the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, community organizations that are non-profit or registered charitable organizations and municipalities can apply to act as third-party administrators of CPP and/or OAS benefits for homeless seniors. As a third-party administrator, qualified individuals and organizations can apply for and receive CPP and/or OAS benefits on behalf of the senior they serve and represent, and then pay out the benefits in the best interest of that person.
The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people, including seniors in over 400 communities across Canada. They offer assistance to seniors, tending to the basic necessities of life, which includes providing shelter for those who are homeless, as well as other supports and services for homeless, vulnerable seniors.
- 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 that support seniors.
- The Supporting Homeless Seniors Program builds on other activities the Government has undertaken to support vulnerable seniors, who are often socially isolated. Ongoing initiatives include:
- The New Horizons for Seniors Program, which funds projects that will help prevent and reduce social isolation among seniors; and,
- The Homelessness Partnering Strategy, a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities, as well as Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada.
- Social isolation is commonly defined as a low quantity and quality of contact with others. Social isolation involves a situation of few social contacts, few social roles and the absence of mutually rewarding relationships.
“Through the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that homeless seniors receive the CPP and OAS benefits for which they are eligible. We are working closely with front-line organizations to reach and support Canada’s most vulnerable seniors.”
– The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)
“The Salvation Army is excited about the targeted efforts the Government has taken to assist one of our often-forgotten assets: our aging Canadians, a growing community in Canada that is increasingly marginalized and in need of assistance.”
– Tony Brushett, Assistant Executive Director, The Salvation Army, Ottawa Booth Centre
“In Ottawa more than 9,000 seniors live in poverty and 6% don’t receive the support they need. With an aging population, these numbers are expected to increase in Canada. Today’s announcement will go a long way to support the most vulnerable seniors in our communities by helping to increase access to financial resources that are critical for those seniors who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.”
– Carole Gagnon, Vice President, Community Investment, United Way Ottawa
“As a current funder of a voluntary Trusteeship program, the City of Windsor is very supportive of the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program. The proposed changes will provide easier access to financial management, coaching and vital income supports that allow individuals and families who are at risk to obtain housing and remain housed.”
–Community Development and Health Services, City of Windsor
“Through the provisions of the Supporting Homeless Seniors Program, the Trusteeship program administered by the City of Brantford is better able to assist homeless seniors with managing their income in a concerted effort to address homelessness and to prevent the risk of homelessness. The program provides us with a greater capacity to assist older adults in our community who are vulnerable and at higher risk of homelessness.”
– Jo Atanas, City of Brantford General Manager, Social Services
Supporting Homeless Seniors Program
The Government of Canada is committed to reaching homeless seniors and ensuring they receive the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) benefits for which they are eligible.
Non-profit and registered charitable organizations and municipalities can apply to act as administrators of CPP and/or OAS benefits for seniors who are homeless, or at imminent risk of being homeless, and who are incapable of managing their own affairs. This will apply only in cases where the Minister of Employment and Social Development is not aware of the existence of another person or agency already authorized to manage the individual’s financial affairs.
To find out if an organization or municipality qualifies as a third-party administrator, or to apply to become one, visit servicecanada.gc.ca.
Canada’s public pensions
Canada’s public pensions have played a major role in reducing the incidence of low income among seniors, from 21.4 percent in 1980 to 5.2 percent in 2011. Canada now has one of the lowest rates of low income among seniors in the world.
The CPP is a stable, well-designed plan that is portable from province to province and fiscally sustainable over the long run. The Chief Actuary of Canada has confirmed that the CPP is financially sound and is fully sustainable for generations to come.
The OAS program is funded through general tax revenues and provides a basic monthly income for Canadian seniors. The Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowances provide additional income to low-income pensioners, their spouses or common-law partners, and eligible survivors.
New Horizons for Seniors Program
The New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and their communities. Through the NHSP, the Government of Canada encourages seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences to the benefit of others.
The objectives of the NHSP are:
- promoting volunteerism among seniors;
- engaging seniors in the community through mentoring of others;
- expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse;
- supporting social participation and inclusion of seniors; and
- providing capital assistance for new and existing community projects and/or programs for seniors.
NHSP funding supports community-based and pan-Canadian projects that help to keep Canadian seniors active, engaged and informed. Recent NHSP calls for proposals for both community-based projects and pan-Canadian projects closed on July 10, 2015.
Community-based projects under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) that enable seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others, and help communities increase their capacity to address local issues, are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year, per organization.
Pan-Canadian projects test and share best practices across the country, and replicate interventions that have worked well in addressing seniors’ issues. The Pan-Canadian 2015-2016 call for proposals focuses on projects that help to reduce social isolation among seniors. Previous calls for proposals have focused on increasing the awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse. Pan-Canadian projects may be funded between $150,000 and $750,000, for up to a maximum of three years.
For more information on the NHSP, visit Canada.ca/Seniors.
Homelessness Partnering Strategy
The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.
Economic Action Plan 2013 renewed the HPS with nearly $600 million in total funding over five years, ending in March 2019, using a Housing First approach.
Until recently, the most common way to deal with homelessness has been a “crisis-based” model—not just in Canada, but in many developed countries. This model involves relying heavily on shelters and other emergency interventions. Typically, individuals must first participate in a series of treatments and demonstrate sobriety before they are offered housing. This approach has been costly and not effective for the long term.
Without stable housing, it is much more difficult to participate in treatment programs and manage mental and physical health issues. This leads to high costs for emergency housing, hospitalization, shelters, prisons and a host of other crisis services.
Housing First, on the other hand, involves ensuring individuals have immediate housing before providing the necessary supports to help them stabilize their lives. Experiences in other countries have demonstrated that this approach shows great promise.
In 2008 the Government invested $110 million in the Mental Health Commission of Canada to undertake our own landmark study. The results demonstrated that:
- Housing First rapidly ends homelessness and leads to other positive outcomes for quality of life;
- it is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. Every $10 invested in Housing First services led to an average savings to government of $21.72 for participants who used emergency and social services the most; and
- it works in the long term. Over the course of the study, participants in the Housing First group spent an average of 73 percent of their time in stable housing, compared to 32 percent for the group receiving usual care.
Overall, the project demonstrated that the Housing First approach can reduce the economic and social costs of homelessness, such as those related to health care and the justice system. In addition, those who received both housing and supportive services showed more signs of recovery than those who did not.
The following is a message from Alice Wong:
On July 1st, Canadians from coast to coast will commemorate the birth of our great nation as Canada celebrates its 148th birthday. With our rich history, vast natural and cultural heritage, strong values and sense of purpose, there is so much to be proud of. As Canadians, we are truly fortunate to call Canada home. I hope you celebrate with me by attending one of the many events that are happening in our community. Happy Canada Day.
Helping Canadians better understand the dangers lasers pose to aircraft
June 24, 2015 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Transport Canada
The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), on behalf of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today launched the Government of Canada’s safety awareness campaign for lasers. The national campaign will help Canadians better understand why pointing a laser at aircraft is not a bright idea.
The first phase of the campaign, unveiled today in collaboration with the Vancouver International Airport, the RCMP, and NAV CANADA, provides the public with an easy to follow infographic, which clarifies the dangers and consequences of pointing lasers into airspace and how incidents can be reported. This summer, the second phase of the campaign will include digital advertising, awareness videos and a direct mail campaign near three major airports.
Transport Canada has also launched tc.gc.ca/NotABrightIdea, which provides Canadians with the information they need to better understand the dangers of pointing a laser at an aircraft.
Transport Canada is working closely with police, other government departments, and the aviation industry to protect pilots, passengers, and people on the ground. If you see a laser pointed at an aircraft, report it to your local police.
- The number of lasers pointed at aircraft is rising in Canada. In 2014, there were 502 reported incidents – a 43% increase since 2012.
- Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a federal offence. If convicted under the Aeronautics Act, an offender could face up to $100,000 in fines, 5 years in prison, or both.
- Canadians can join the conversation and learn more by using the #NotABrightIdea hashtag on Twitter.
“It should be a no brainer that pointing lasers at any part of an aircraft is dangerous. This awareness campaign will help Canadians better understand the serious risks and consequences of pointing a laser at an airplane. By working closely with our partners, we can help to reduce the number of incidents at Canada’s airports.”
The Honourable Alice Wong
Minister of State (Seniors)
“At YVR, our number one priority is safety. We are working with our partners to increase education and awareness about the impact of laser strikes. We will be going out into the community this summer to provide the public with more information. The bottom line is—don’t point a laser at an aircraft.”
President & CEO
Vancouver Airport Authority
“Suspects who choose to target aircraft with lasers show a careless and wanton disregard for the safety of the pilots, passengers and the communities surrounding airports. Those caught will be prosecuted according to both federal and provincial acts and will be subject to substantial fines and jail time.”
C.V. (Cam) Kowalski, Sgt.