Throne Speech 2013
Parliament for 2013
Richmond Electoral District
Address by Honourable Alice Wong to the International Federation on Ageing at the 11th Global Conference on Ageing
Prague, Czech Republic – May 29, 2012
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I am delighted to be here today, on behalf of the Government of Canada, especially in Prague, a city so rich in history and culture.
Having said that, I would like to thank both Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the IFA, and Mr. Greg Shaw, IFA Director, for inviting me.
It’s also a privilege to be in the company of His Excellency, Petr Necas, Minister Jaromir Drábec, and distinguished colleagues Jan Lorman and Irene Hoskins.
The IFA, as you all know, is based in my home country of Canada, and as Canadians, we are familiar with, and inspired by, the good work you do.
As Minister of State for Seniors in Canada, I recognize that like many other countries, we face unprecedented demographic change, making this a unique time to be working on seniors’ issues.
Now, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I would like to quickly touch upon a subject that has become quite close to my heart—elder abuse.
Yesterday, I opened a conference organized by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
I am delighted to see the efforts made by other countries, such as yours, which are taking action to eliminate elder abuse. But more needs to be done. And I think a continued approach to raising awareness is an important first step to addressing this problem.
Getting back on track, during the IFA’s Senior Government Officials Meeting, I was pleased to learn how advances in long-term care and technology are helping to keep seniors active and safe in their homes.
Learning from one another is critical. And this is why I am here today—to learn from you and share best practices.
What we discover here will help seniors in our respective countries enjoy the best possible quality of life, and that is why this event is so important.
Let’s take this opportunity to reinvent the idea of the “golden years” in which one is still active and vital, and to make these years a time for creative development.
I wish you a successful conference.
Prague, Czech Republic, May 28, 2012 — The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), is meeting with international counterparts and stakeholders today to discuss and promote the interests of seniors, including the serious problem of elder abuse, at two international conferences.
“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is our opportunity to come together to put a spotlight on this critical issue facing all of our countries,” said Minister of State Wong. “Canada stands with the international community in its efforts to raise awareness, to more effectively measure the prevalence and to legislate tougher penalties for those who abuse seniors.”
Minister Wong gave opening remarks today at the 7th World Conference and Commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, hosted by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Tomorrow, she will provide greetings at the 11th Global Conference on Ageing: “Ageing Connects,” organized by the International Federation on Ageing.
As part of its ongoing commitment to address elder abuse, the Government of Canada continues to play an active role in addressing elder abuse through awareness campaigns, the New Horizons for Seniors Program and recently proposed legislation. The Government of Canada also continues to work with its domestic and international partners to address elder abuse and advance the overall well-being of seniors, taking into consideration the challenges of an aging population.
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This news release is available in alternative formats on request.
For further information (media only):
Director of Communications
Office of Minister of State (Seniors)
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada
The Government of Canada is working hard to help improve the lives of seniors on many fronts. These efforts include:
* introducing a new Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up benefit to help Canada’s most vulnerable seniors. This is the largest increase in the GIS for the lowest-income seniors in 25 years. The measure further improves the financial security and well-being of more than 680 000 seniors across Canada. It represents an investment of more than $300 million annually;
* increasing funding to the New Horizons for Seniors Program in 2011 by $5 million for two years, bringing the Program’s annual budget to $45 million. The Program helps seniors use their leadership abilities, energy and skills to benefit communities across Canada;
* providing Canadians with close to $76 billion this year through Canada’s public pension system;
* providing $2.5 billion this fiscal year in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as enabling pension-income splitting and increasing the Age credit;
* providing $400 million over two years under Canada’s Economic Action Plan for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors;
* supporting positive and active ageing through the collaborative Age-Friendly Communities Initiative, Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults and fall-prevention initiatives;
* appointing a Minister of State (Seniors)—someone who can bring the concerns of older Canadians to the Cabinet table and stand up on their behalf;
* establishing October 1 as National Seniors Day to recognize the significant and ongoing contributions seniors make to families, communities, workplaces and society; and
* ongoing action to address elder abuse including: awareness campaigns, the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which includes projects to raise awareness of elder abuse, and recently proposed legislation that would help ensure consistently tough penalties for offences involving abuse of elderly persons.
Find out more
For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing for seniors, visit www.seniors.gc.ca.
Address by Honourable Alice Wong for the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 7th World Conference and Commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Prague, Czech Republic – May 28, 2012
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In many cultures around the world, elders are considered a source of immeasurable knowledge and wisdom.
In the Aboriginal cultures of my country, Canada, elders have taught us that life is an endless circle, and that we have to create around us circles of protection, healing and mutual support.
We are gathered here today, at this 7th World Conference and Commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, to create such a circle.
It’s very encouraging to see people here from so many different nations. It’s good to know that in the fight against elder abuse, we have so many allies in the international community.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Gloria Gutman from the INPEA and Jan Lorman from Zivot 90 for organizing and hosting this important event.
Gloria and her team, by the way, are based in Canada, and I want to thank them for all the important work they do to raise awareness of elder abuse both at home and around the world.
Elder abuse is difficult to talk about. It’s an emotional issue. But talking about it, breaking the silence and helping people understand the magnitude of this problem is essential for it to stop.
We all hope we can grow older without losing our autonomy. But a time may come when we are dependent on others, and more vulnerable than we are now.
So it’s troubling and terrible to think that the people we trust might take advantage of us.
That is why elder abuse is such a tragedy—because it is so often a betrayal of trust.
This betrayal of trust is also the reason why elder abuse is hidden and under‑reported.
Elder abuse robs older people of their dignity and peace at a time of life when they ought to feel secure.
The Government of Canada recognizes that elder abuse is a problem with devastating consequences—a problem that must not be tolerated.
We are taking action in various ways to prevent and fight the neglectful acts that may harm vulnerable seniors.
For example, through a program called New Horizons for Seniors, we invite Canadian organizations to apply for funding to implement local, regional or national projects to address elder abuse.
When we issued a request for proposals last fall, the response was overwhelming. Organizations across the country contacted us with ideas for suitable projects.
Last month, we announced over $35.6 million in funding for small community-led projects, some of which address elder abuse.
And, in the coming weeks, we look forward to announcing funding for larger pan-Canadian projects related to elder abuse awareness.
On the judicial side, our government has moved to defend older Canadians who are mistreated.
We recently proposed legislation to amend Canada’s Criminal Code to ensure consistently tough penalties for offences involving the abuse of older people. This will further help protect our seniors against these crimes.
Of course, prevention is always better than punishment. Educating the public about elder abuse is still our first line of defence.
In Canada, we continue to raise awareness with our national elder abuse awareness campaign called “It’s Time to Face the Reality.”
The most recent campaign ran this past winter and included television, print and Internet elements.
We’re very proud of this successful campaign, and I am pleased to be able to show you today the television ad that has been airing across Canada.
We hope this campaign and our other initiatives to combat elder abuse will continue to spark a change in attitudes in communities across our country.
I am very proud of the leadership role that our government is taking to address elder abuse. But we cannot do it alone. Everyone has a role to play in fighting elder abuse.
In Canada, we continue to work closely with other levels of government, and organizations like the INPEA and the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
By the way, I am very happy to see at this conference Dr. Lynn McDonald from the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly, otherwise known as NICE, and Marie Beaulieu, holder of the Research Chair on the Mistreatment of Older Adults at the Université de Sherbrooke. And I would like to acknowledge all the excellent work they are doing.
NICE recently completed an important research project supported by the Government of Canada entitled Preparatory Work to Measure the Mistreatment of Older Adults in Canada.
They will be doing a presentation on this topic later today, and I think you will find it very insightful.
Canada is pleased that World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is now officially recognized by the United Nations.
The Day gives us an opportunity to shine a brighter light on the problem of elder abuse, which affects people around the globe.
In this regard, the INPEA has been a tremendous influence for good. Without your dedication and determination to combat elder abuse, this critical issue would still be unaddressed and unrecognized.
I am glad to be with you at this event today. I am interested to hear the outcomes.
I also look forward to participating in the International Federation on Ageing’s 11th Global Conference on Ageing tomorrow.
Working together, we can create a circle of protection around vulnerable elders and make a difference in their lives.
Working together, we can put a stop to elder abuse.
Thank you for inviting me today, and I wish you all a productive and successful conference.
Vancouver, British Columbia, May 20, 2012 – The Roundhouse Turntable Plaza — an innovative public urban space in which to socialize, enjoy performances, and explore neighbourhood heritage — officially opened today with a community celebration.
Federal and City dignitaries joined members of the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, in partnership with the West Coast Railway Association, in celebrating the re-opening of the Roundhouse Turntable Plaza. The event coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Roundhouse, and the 125th anniversary of the arrival in Vancouver of Engine 374, which pulled the first passenger train across Canada. Activities included an aerial dance performance, a brass band, kids’activities, a public art project, and Engine 374’s annual ‘steamed up’ demonstration in the plaza.
“The revitalized Roundhouse Turntable Plaza means great things for Yaletown and the City of Vancouver,” said Minister of State (Seniors) Alice Wong, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “This investment goes a long way to ensuring the plaza will be a key gathering place for residents, tourists and the arts community for years to come.”
“Making arts a part of everyday life is an important aspect of the Vancouver Park Board mandate,” said Constance Barnes, Vancouver Park Board Chair. “This welcoming and exciting community space will bring the plaza to life for residents and visitors alike, while retaining the history of the area.”
The $1.8-million project has revitalized the urban plaza space adjacent to the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. The project has transformed the plaza into an outdoor public and visual arts/performance space that can hold 500-750 people, for everything from farmers markets and plays, to concerts and festivals.
Designed to create a performance space and showcase the plaza as a social gathering place, the three main features of the project include:
* A crane: reflecting early railway cranes, it supports canopies with cables for lighting, banners, and aerial performances, and increases programming options while enhancing the industrial architectural style;
* A viewing platform: overlooking the turntable pit, it features a bridge-turning mechanism that creates opportunities for visitors to view historical interpretations of the turntable and Roundhouse’s story; and
* A mist feature: with programmable LED lighting, it is reminiscent of the “Age of Steam.”
The Government of Canada committed $600,000 toward the project through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. The City of Vancouver and Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation invested $950,000 in the project and BC Hydro invested $250,000.
The Government of Canada is focused on creating new opportunities for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, and infrastructure investments are an important part of this plan. Thanks to the Government of Canada’s leadership, and strong economic and financial fundamentals, the Canadian economy has recovered from the global recession better than most other countries. Canada has been a leader among G-7 countries throughout the recovery with more than 750,000 net new jobs created since July 2009. To learn more about the opportunities in Economic Action Plan 2012, visit www.budget.gc.ca/2012/home-accueil-eng.html.
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
Toll free: 1-877-250-7154
On May 16, 2012, Alice Wong answered one question about pensions during question period. The following is a transcript:
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, has the public service provided the Minister of Finance with an estimate of how many dollars the government will save by raising the OAS age from 65 to 67, yes or no?
Hon. Alice Wong (Minister of State (Seniors), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, there will be no reductions to seniors’ pensions.
The opposition parties are missing the point. This is not about savings. Our changes will put old age security on a sustainable path so it will be there when Canadians need it. Changes made will be gradual, beginning in 2023 and coming into full effect in 2029.
We are also providing Canadians with the option to defer OAS and collect later at a higher rate, if they wish.
Ottawa, Ontario, May 8, 2012—The Government of Canada is seeking applications for projects to help seniors lead and participate in social activities and contribute to their communities.
This call for proposals under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) was launched today by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors).
“Our government is proud to support organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of seniors,” said Minister Finley. “Through initiatives such as the NHSP, we help seniors stay active and encourage them to continue to participate in the social and economic life of Canada.”
“The New Horizons for Seniors Program helps seniors put their experience to use through volunteerism and mentorship,” added Minister of State Wong. “By investing in these community projects, our government is improving both the quality of life for Canadian seniors and their neighbourhoods.”
NHSP community-based project funding enables seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others and helps communities increase their capacity to address local issues. Eligible recipients can receive up to $25,000 in grant funding per year.
In 2011, the Government of Canada strengthened direct support to seniors by increasing the annual NHSP budget to $45 million. Through Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canada’s social programs remain sustainable now and into the future.
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This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.
For further information (media only):
Office of Minister Finley
Media Relations Office
Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada
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Director of Communications
Office of Minister of State (Seniors), Alice Wong
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.
Community-based projects must address one or more of the program’s five objectives: promoting volunteerism, mentoring, elder abuse awareness, social participation and providing capital assistance.
The call will close on June 29, 2012, for all of Canada, except Quebec. The Quebec call will close on September 14, 2012, to coincide with a provincial call for proposals.
Since its beginning, the Program has funded more than 10 400 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada. The NHSP recently approved 1 923 community-based projects worth over $35.6 million in funding through the 2010–2011 call for proposals.
For more information on the NHSP call for proposals, please visit www.hrsdc.gc.ca/seniors.