Commons bills have eye on seniors
It goes without saying, if you have the numbers, your pet issues will be duly noticed by those in power. In other words, it’s increasingly looking like what affects seniors will be an area where political parties give full attention if they want votes. And, suffice it to say, that’s the name of the game for them.
Some current jockeying in the House of Commons should come as no surprise then.
Issues affecting the elderly were highlighted in bills tabled by two parties Thursday. The Conservatives are eyeing tougher sentences for people convicted of elder abuse.
The NDP, for their part, are keeping tabs on another hot-button issue: anticipated changes to age eligibility for Old Age Security. The Official Opposition wants provisions in place that would automatically register seniors for the guaranteed income supplement.
If the latter is successful, it suggests a bit of give-and-take where pension policy is concerned. NDP MP Laurin Liu says about 135,000 low-income seniors miss out on collecting the pension top-up because of administrative hurdles - although that figure is from a 2005 study and reforms since then might have lowered the number.
As it stands now, seniors, even if they are eligible, have to apply for the benefit. The 2007 change means that once they qualify, the benefit is renewed each year through their income tax return information.
The NDP want to see that initial enrolment is also automatic - helping to ensure all who need that extra bit get it. It might be a small number affected, yet this remedy being put forward sounds like a simple measure.
That supplement is meant for the lower-income pensioners. So if we are to see changes in coming years, and that’s the segment of the population where extra attention is needed.
We can expect more of that from the parties as this segment of the population grows. And if the attention isn’t forthcoming of the politicians’ own accord, well, we all know about the squeaky wheel.