No help to senior women

The largest demographic group living in poverty in the country is single senior women

Filed for publication with the Mirror

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

The largest demographic group living in poverty in the country is single (widowed or never married) senior women. Your government’s so-called initiatives” for seniors make virtually no difference for these women.

Increasing the TFSA contribution limit for people who can’t afford to contribute in the first place is virtually meaningless. Pension and income splitting measures only matter (or benefit anyone) if you actually have a partner to split them with. The whopping $1,500 Home Accessibility Tax Credit assumes that these senior women have the other $20-40K in loose pocket change that will be necessary to undertake the renovations needed to keep them in their homes.

Even the much-touted Guaranteed Income Supplement is clawed back if these women take any initiative to supplement their meager income with a small part-time job (This is assuming that they are still capable of working in their 70s, 80s and 90s).

Reducing the minimum withdrawal requirements on RSP/RRIF funds is laughable to people who have little or no savings of this type. Most of these women had scant opportunity to build RSPs, or private and government pensions. They were the generations who stayed home to raise us.

The reality for these women is that they usually live in substandard accommodation (and pay too much for it). They shop for most of their needs in the local thrift stores, and increasingly often are required to use community food banks between pension paydays. They also have to make choices between purchasing needed medications, paying utilities, and having basic medical/dental/hearing and optometry services.

Your speech and brochure-writing spin doctors have managed to put a nice glossy finish on these supposed seniors benefits. Too bad they contain nothing of real substance for these women.

These women may be old, but they are not yet dead and they vote. Even if they need a ride to the polling station on election day, I sense that they will be out in full force. Are you counting on their vote? Just askin’.

Lee Ettinger