As the party leaders criss-cross the country in this federal election campaign, there is a sense among seniors their issues aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
Global News put out a call last month for a special election series, “Ignored and Ignited.”
We asked people to send in issues they feel are being ignored in this campaign, or that have them excited.
No group sent in more responses than seniors.
“I feel ignored by all the contenders. There’s lots of help for families and young people, but where’s the help for seniors?” – Dot
“I’ve heard a lot about families getting breaks, but so far nothing for lower-income seniors. Our cost of living raises are a joke.” – Marion
“I see no concern from politicians in any forward planning to accommodate the elderly. It should already be in place.” – Bill and June
“I, and my senior friends here in Manitoba, find it demeaning that as a group we are virtually unrecognized. It was US who built this country in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.” – Rob
“I worked for 50 years and retired without a rich pension. I’ve paid heavy taxes all of my working life. But now what? I’m struggling. Sinking. Invisible.” – Shelley
It wasn’t hard to find that sentiment at the seniors centre in Kingston, Ontario.
The facility is in an old elementary school. It has a staff of only about 13, but also draws on 600 volunteers. It has about 5,300 members.
Catherine Milks, the centre’s communications director, wasn’t surprised to hear that seniors feel they’re being ignored. She says the parties take them for granted.
“I’m not sure their voices are being heard loudly enough,” says Milks.
Seniors are a vulnerable segment of the population, according to Milks. Finding affordable housing is a challenge for many living on a fixed income. Older people also have health and mobility issues.
Milks says there should be a national strategy to help seniors and promote programs like the Kingston seniors centre.
“This is a model that works,” says Milks. “Let us help other locations do this.”
The centre offers dozens of programs, including woodworking, bridge, painting and table tennis. Many offer not only the chance to get the heart pounding with a little exercise, but just as importantly, they get people out and socializing.
“When we lose touch with them, it’s isolation and loneliness,” Milks says. “And they just become hidden.”
What the parties promise:
The Liberal Party platform lays out a plan to increase Old Age Security for seniors by 10 per cent once they turn 75 years old. It would also boost the survivor’s benefit for seniors by up to $2,080 each year.
The Conservatives are promising more money to low- and middle-income seniors. They say they would boost the age amount tax credit for seniors earning less than $87,750 by $1,000. They’re also promising to keep the qualifying age for Old Age Security at 65 years old.
The NDP is pledging to create a National Seniors Strategy. It says it will work with all levels of government to focus on health care, reduce isolation and combat seniors’ poverty.
The Green Party platform promises greater protection for Canadians’ pensions when companies go bankrupt. It says it would also change Canada Pension Plan by doubling the target income replacement rate to 50 per cent of income earned during working years.