Support for Seniors
I wanted to reach out to you, today, on an issue that I hear a lot about – the difficulties that many senior citizens face in making ends meet. I have constituents come into my office looking for help, I meet people at events around the community, and many of you write to me on this issue.
I know, that as the cost of living continues to increase, seniors living on a fixed pension can have a difficult time paying the bills. Our Government is also aware of this issue, and we have taken many steps to help seniors enjoy healthy and happy lives in their later years.
At 5.7%, Canada has one of the lowest rates of seniors living below the low income cut-off (poverty line) in the developed world. Only 30 years ago, in the mid-eighties, that same rate was in the 13%-15% range.
Our two public retirement income and pension systems, OAS and CPP, provide a dependable, indexed income support, which supplements the voluntary or employment-based pension savings seniors depend on in their later years (RRSPs, TFSAs, RRIFs).
Our Government has also taken additional actions to ensure that seniors are able to keep more of their own money. We reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. We also introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account and income splitting for pensioners, and increased the Age Amount Tax Credit by $2,000 (from $4,500 to $6,500) and indexed it to inflation. All told, these measures saved approximately $2.3 billion in taxes for Canadian seniors in 2010/11 alone, which is about $500 per year for every Canadian over the age of 65.
In 2011, we introduced the largest GIS increase in over 25 years, which gave eligible low-income seniors additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. This helped more than 680,000 seniors across Canada.
In Economic Action Plan 2015, we increased the annual contribution limit for the TFSA from $5,500 to $10,000, and reduced the minimum withdrawal factors for RRIFs. With this change, a senior citizen at 85 years of age would be able to keep one third more of their money in RRIFs.
We also fund the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which supports community programs that encourage seniors to remain engaged and active in their communities. In fact, last year, we enhanced the NHSP by increasing funding by an additional $5 million per year, bringing it to a total annual funding of $50 million. Since 2006, the NHSP has helped fund over 3000 projects in communities across Canada. 45 of those projects were funded in Simcoe North.
Senior citizens contribute a lot to our community. They are active volunteers, and help to orchestrate many of the great community events we have all across Simcoe North. I am proud of the record of our Government in ensuring that seniors have the tools they need to continue contributing to their communities.
I would also like to remind you that if you need to obtain a passport, or renew your expired or about-to-expire passport, please plan to attend my passport clinic on Tuesday June 30th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Oro-Medonte Arena, 71 4 Line N., Oro. Staff and volunteers will be on site to answer your questions and review your completed application for submission to Passport Canada. There will also be a photographer on-site for photos at a cost of $22. If you have any questions please contact my Orillia constituency office at (705) 327-0513.
Bruce Stanton, M.P.