Rachel Blaney calls on Liberals to make seniors a real priority and create full department for seniors

Too many seniors are currently struggling, and it’s time for the government to make them a real priority in Canada, NDP MP Rachel Blaney says.

The NDP is calling on the Liberals to create a full federal Department for Seniors, led by a Minister for Seniors, to oversee a national strategy that ensures adequate income, strengthens services, and plans for the coming ‘growing grey tide.’

“By the year 2036, 1 in 4 Canadians will be a senior, and the golden years are not so golden for too many vulnerable seniors,” Blaney, the NDP Seniors Critic, said in a press release.

She was commenting on HUMA’s Advancing Inclusion and Quality of Life Among Seniors report tabled in Parliament last Thursday before the Easter break.

“We have strong recommendations for better housing, home care, accessibility, social inclusion, age-friendly communities and more, but now we need to see leadership from our government,” Blaney says.

Benefits, services and programs need to be simplified, clear and fair for all seniors. The government must immediately implement a comprehensive and long-term plan that helps seniors, particularly those in high-risk groups, including Indigenous Peoples, women living alone, individuals identifying as LBGQT2, racialized minorities, and recent immigrants. In the additional recommendations of the report, the NDP is calling for a National Pharmacare Program to help seniors with their medications, with special attention to seniors living in rural and remote areas. The report also recommends the need for better training and supervision of home care workers, protection against financial abuse, improvements to GIS, and having companies face tighter regulatory rules to fulfill pension obligations to employees.

“Issues faced by seniors are too often overlooked, and without a specific department to oversee and implement a national strategy and subsequent programs, their issues will continue to get lost in the current super-sized department,” said Blaney. “It’s time for seniors to get the attention and strong social programs that they deserve.”

Blaney, MP North Island-Powell River, was the NDP representative for the six-month study, repeatedly raising the specific challenges of seniors in rural and remote communities. Blaney cited what local seniors told her at 11 town halls she conducted, as well as other stories: how a ride on scooters with seniors in Campbell River identified transportation challenges, funding challenges and community building by friendship centres at Sacred Wolf and Waciay, the volunteer health services program at Sayward, an Alert Bay age-friendly pilot project and the specific housing challenges for Kingcome for people, affected by climate change.