Supporting our Seniors

Our overall Canadian population is aging, and I believe that continuing to provide the vital supports that our seniors rely on will be one of the most critical issues we face over the next 10-20 years. Our seniors built this country, and they deserve respect and support. This is an area of shared responsibility between different levels of government – and we have a vital role to play at the federal level continuing to provide retirement security, strong economic growth, and funding to the provinces for healthcare and other key services.

Last week, our government announced a new Single Seniors Tax Credit. I’ve talked to many single seniors, who have identified to me how the death of a partner can mean the loss of spousal pension benefits, and can make it harder for them to stay in their own home. The Single Seniors Tax Credit will help single seniors to enjoy the same tax benefits as married seniors. A re-elected Conservative government would begin implementing this commitment right away.

Also related to supporting our seniors, I wrote a blog post earlier in the campaign about the issue of retirement savings. This topic is important to seniors, but also to everyone else – because all of us have to think about getting ready for retirement. If you missed reading that blog post, you can see it now, here: http://www.garnettgenuis.ca/choice_in_retirement_savings.

Over the past 10 years, here are some of our government’s key accomplishments when it comes to helping seniors:

  • -Increasing the Age Credit amount by $2,000.
  • -Doubling the Pension Income Credit.
  • -Introducing pension income splitting.
  • -Increasing healthcare transfers to the provinces by nearly 70%. By contrast, these transfers were cut by 30% by the Liberals in the 1990s.
  • -Enhancing the New Horizons for Seniors Program by increasing funding by an additional $5 million per year.
  • -Launching the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Action Plan to work with employers so that caregivers can maximize their participation in the workforce while being able to provide care to their loved ones. 
  • -Expanding the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers by investing $75 million to help unemployed older workers put their talents and experience back to work.   
  • -Protecting seniors using financial services by requiring enhanced disclosure by banks on the costs and benefits of using powers of attorney and joint accounts, as well as requiring more staff training related to these services.
  • -Increasing the amount that Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients can earn through employment without any reduction in GIS benefits (from $500 to $3,500).  A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500 or more, will now be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.
  • -Increasing the age limit for RRSP-to-RRIF conversion to 71 from 69.
  • -Establishing the landmark Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). This has been particularly beneficial for seniors, as neither income earned in a TFSA nor withdrawals from a TFSA affect their federal income-tested benefits and credits, such as the GIS.
  • -Introducing 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 – helping more than 680,000 seniors across Canada.

Overall, our government’s low tax plan has already helped remove over 380,000 seniors from the tax rolls. Since 2006, about $2.8 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners. Currently, a single senior can earn at least $20,054 and a senior couple at least $40,108 before paying federal income tax. The number for a single senior will increase after the implementation of the Single Senior’s Tax Credit.