New federal report on housing: Improve affordability to enable more seniors to age in place in their homes https://www.letstalkhousing.ca/pdfs/what-we-heard.pdf …
A new study has found that food insecurity among Canada’s seniors is cut in half once they turn 65 and Canada’s Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs kick in. The results indicate how important a guaranteed income -even the relatively small one provided by OAS and GIS- can be in reducing poverty, say the study’s authors.
“This study demonstrates that even small amounts of guaranteed annual income can have a potentially important impact on poverty,” says study co-author Dr. Daniel Dutton of the University of Lethbridge’s Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy.
In Canada, poverty is a significant social problem. Approximately 12.9 per cent of Canadians or 4.3 million people live on incomes below the poverty threshold, according to a 2013 Statistics Canada report. And compared with other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, Canada’s poverty rate is higher than average, even though its national income levels are within the top tier for OECD countries.
For seniors, however, Canada seems to be doing something right, as less than six per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 currently live on incomes below the poverty line, giving Canada one of the lowest elderly poverty rates among OECD nations.
A big reason for this is the income floor provided by OAS and GIS, which together give low-income seniors a minimum non-taxable yearly income of $15,949.68 (by 2015 numbers).
But how effective are the federal guaranteed income programs for seniors in alleviating real poverty? To find out, researchers at the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge looked at seven years of data from the Canadian Community Health Survey and focused on food insecurity for seniors aged 55 to 74 from low-income, single-person households (those making less than $20,000 per year).
Strongly associated with instances of poverty, food insecurity is described as having insufficient access to affordable and nutritious food. About four million Canadians face food insecurity problems, with a disproportionate amount of them living in Indigenous communities.
The researchers found that the prevalence of food insecurity for low-income seniors under the age of 65 was around 43 per cent, but once federal programs kicked in at age 65, that number dropped to as low as 16 per cent. The result was the same regardless of the senior’s sex, income level or home ownership, which shows the success of OAS and GIS in staving off poverty, says Dutton.
“Remember, the amount of money they receive is not a lot by any standard, it certainly isn’t making them rich by any means, but what it is doing is giving them a measure of stability,” says Dutton. “These people are now no longer unsure of what their future holds in terms of supplemented income from the government and that’s very important.”
The results raise the question of the arbitrariness of having OAS and GIS start at 65, rather than sometime earlier. If the programs are successful in cutting down food insecurity and poverty – both of which are known to have significant economic and health impacts – then why not start them earlier, says Dutton. “Currently, age 65 is the magic number for some reason. The question we ask ourselves, why age 65, why not at 63? What is it about 65 that makes these people more deserving of Old Age Security?”
In 2031, seniors will reach 23% of pop. up from 15% in 2011
Provinces push for more federal health spending as senior population grows
Provinces with older-than-average populations are pushing Ottawa to boost health transfers based on demographics as part of a new national health accord.
But provinces and territories are also expressing increased frustration with the federal Liberals over an apparent unwillingness to discuss increased federal spending on health.
Preparing for a rise in health-care costs as baby boomers retire is shaping up as a key point of contention as federal Health Minister Jane Philpott prepares for an Oct. 18 meeting with the provinces and territories on health-care reform.
Several provincial health ministers said in interviews this week that they want to see increased federal health transfers that are weighted to prioritize regions facing the most pressing demographic pressures. “I have raised it at every opportunity,” said British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake. “We haven’t seen any positive response but the dialogue will continue.”
In New Brunswick, where there were more deaths than births recorded for the first time last year, Health Minister Victor Boudreau said his province is trying to keep costs under control but needs more money from Ottawa.“The older you get, the more you require services from the health system,” he said.
Premiers are also escalating their opposition to planned changes to health transfers, asking for a first ministers meeting on health in addition to one already planned on climate change.
Writing as chair of the Council of the Federation, Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski said in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – obtained and reported on by the CBC Wednesday and confirmed by The Globe – that the provinces and territories would like to see a health meeting confirmed before a meeting is held on the environment. If that isn’t possible, the premiers want Ottawa to delay planned changes to health transfers by one year.
The pace of Canada’s demographic change was highlighted Wednesday when Statistics Canada released updated population figures. The estimates show nearly six million seniors in Canada this year, up from 4.3 million in 2006. Statistics Canada has previously estimated that all baby boomers will have reached the age of 65 by 2031, when the proportion of seniors could reach 23 per cent of the total population, up from 15 per cent in 2011.
A sense of the coming negotiations will emerge publicly Thursday when health-care experts from across Canada, as well as Dr. Philpott and her Quebec counterpart, Dr. Gaétan Barrette, speak at a conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Medical Association in Ottawa.
The CMA has submitted a proposal to the federal government that calls for an annual top-up to existing health transfers that would start at $1.7-billion in 2017 and would be divided among the provinces based on demographic pressures. President Granger Avery said Ottawa needs to boost transfers but it must also work with the provinces to tackle some of the nagging major structural problems in the health system.
Dr. Avery said governments could save billions by working together on prescription-drug policies and by shifting treatment away from hospitals in favour of home care where possible. Dr. Avery said he’s optimistic these talks will go beyond wrangling over transfer formulas and will actually address these issues.
Dr. Barrette, the Quebec Health Minister, said he does not share the CMA’s optimism that talks will result in meaningful change. Since last October’s election, he said there’s been virtually no behind-the-scenes talks between Ottawa and the provinces on health.
“It’s extremely disappointing to this point,” he said. “I’m expecting the federal government to come down from their ivory tower and tell Canadians exactly what they will do … This is a government that said they would distance themselves from the Conservatives. They’re doing exactly the same thing.”
So far, Dr. Philpott has attempted to refocus discussion away from the transfer formula in favour of negotiations on a separate “health accord” of specific issues such as home care, palliative care and mental health.
The Liberals’ election platform promised $3-billion over four years for home care. However, Dr. Philpott has said she has no plans to reverse next year’s scheduled change to the health transfer formula. That change will end the automatic 6-per-cent annual increase that has been in place since 2004. The new formula is based on economic growth, with a guaranteed minimum transfer increase of 3 per cent.
Seniors’ Voice is a new coalition which aims to promote October 1, the International Day of Seniors in Canada. Seniors’ Voice http://seniorsvoice.org/ grew out of the Seniors’ Vote coalition which was organized during the 2015 federal election .campaign.
Coalition citoyenne pour mieux vivre et mieux vieillir (C2V2)
Canadian Association of Retired Teachers
British Columbia Federation of Retired Union Members (BCFORUM)
Prince Edward Island Federation of Union Retirees
Ontario Federation of Union Retirees
Nova Scotia Federation of Union Retirees
Manitoba Federation of Union Retirees
New Brunswick Federation of Union Retirees
Alberta Federation of Union Retirees (AFUR)
Newfoundland Labrador Coalition of Pensioners Retirees & Seniors Organizations
Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees
British Columbia Retired Teachers’ Association
British Columbia Old Age Pensioners’ Organization
Saskatchewan Union Retirees Federation
Canadian Alliance of United Seniors
“Seniors’Voice Seniors’ Voice is a collaboration of organizations that have come together to celebrate the contribution of seniors to Canadian society on October 1 which the United Nations has designated as the International Day of Older Persons.
Seniors’ Voice promotes the concerns of seniors at all three levels of government.
In 2016, the focus is on health, pensions, housing and inequality.
Canada’s federal government can take immediate steps to improve the lives of seniors in the following areas:
A – HOUSING
Make a national seniors’ housing strategy a component of the new national housing strategy.
Triple the budget for affordable housing geared to low-income seniors to $300 million a year.
Assure that part of new affordable housing units, announced in the 2016 federal budget, is allocated to seniors.
Partner with the provinces, territories, indigenous governments, municipalities and private sector to reach the goal of providing the purpose-built seniors housing goal for 18.5% over-75s as Quebec has now– in all of Canada within 10 years.
Develop comprehensive programs with, the provinces, territories, indigenous governments and municipalities to help seniors stay in their own homes.
B – HEALTH
1. Implement a National Health Care Strategy for Seniors as outlined in a “A Declaration concerning a National Health Care Strategy for Seniors” developed by those participating in the 2015 Vancouver Roundtable.
2. Implement in cooperation with the provinces a national pharmacare plan.
C – PENSIONS
1. Improve the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans.
2. Reject any move to change defined benefit plans into target benefit plans.
D – INEQUALITY
1. Pass legislation to limit corporations’ use of off-shore subsidiaries to shift profits and reduces taxes paid in Canada. This can be done by requiring economic substance for offshore subsidiaries to be considered separate entities for tax purposes and capping interest payments to offshore subsidiaries.
2. Close unfair and ineffective tax loopholes such as the stock option deduction
3. Institute a Robin Hood Tax, which is a tax of about 0.05%, on financial transactions.
4. Establish a mechanism for reporting on major foreign financial transactions.”
|New Report from Broadbent Institute by Richard Shillington
An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors shows a stark picture of inadequate savings and growing poverty, and offers a clear baseline of evidence for the government to expand the Canada Pension Plan.
As the Liberal government prepares to table its first budget, the twin challenges of ensuring adequate retirement security and reducing seniors’ poverty are coming into sharp focus.
Take a look at just a few of the staggering findings in our new report or read the Globe and Mail story:
We now know the panoply of public policies offering “voluntary” options for saving — such as RRSPs, TFSAs, group RPPs, and pooled Registered Pension Plans — are not addressing the shortcomings in declining workplace pensions and inadequate public pensions.
In the short term, the Guaranteed Income Supplement must be boosted for all seniors, not just singles. And there should be no debate that the CPP needs to be expanded! Help us spread the word by sharing this report or one of the social sharables below.
Follow several passionate,
activist grandmothers as they fight for peace, social justice and the environment!
With disarming smiles, biting lyrics, flowery hats, and a gift for inventive, off-the-wall protest, they challenge authorities and stereotypes alike. Their movement, started in Canada 28 years ago, has become international. They are deflating clichés about aging and proving that life can be lived to its fullest, in a meaningful way, to the end. They show up, invited or not, at demonstrations, rallies and political events. They are the Raging Grannies, and they fight for peace, social justice and the environment.
Followed by a discussion on senior’s activism and advocating for senior’s issues:
Phyllis Creighton – one of the original Toronto Raging Grannies
Sheila Neysmith – professor of Social Work (emerita), U of Toronto
John Anderson – coordinator, Canadian Alliance of United Seniors
Ontario Seniors Housing: Too Few and Too Expensive
Presented by John Anderson CAUS at the discussion in Ottawa, Ontario
on the 2016 Budget of the Ontario Government
Delta Ottawa City Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
January 15, 2016
Canada and Ontario’s population is aging rapidly. Estimates from Statcan show that by July 1 2015, for the first time, there were more persons aged 65 years and older in Canada than children aged 0 to 14 years. Nearly one in six Canadians (16.1%)—a record 5,780,900 Canadians—was at least 65 years old, compared with 5,749,400 children aged 0 to 14 years (16.0%).
According to the most recent population projections, the share of persons aged 65 years and older will continue to increase. It should account for 20.1% of the population on July 1, 2024.The absolute numbers of seniors will double from 5.8 million in 2015 to some 10.1 million in 2035. By 2051 roughly one in four Canadians is expected to be 65 or over.
Seniors need two kinds of help around housing. Most seniors will need some kind of help to stay in their own housing. This presentation will not concentrate on this very important issue which CAUS has presented on before and is available on our website https://nationalseniorsproject.org/. Rather with the limited time available I will concentrate on the issue of specialized housing for seniors.
In Canada, there are, according to the annual study (2015) by CMHC (https://www03.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/catalog/productDetail.cfm?cat=160&itm=31&lang=en&sid=IDM5SENLinTR1QWmKQVCGOL1Vgdm0vMH4mtDE0wVeGofcoNHVhtKZ65xhZukiGLg&fr=1454704723199) , only a total of 224,342 spaces for seniors in Canada. Just less than half of these spaces are in Quebec (111,973). This represents in Quebec a rate of 18.5% of seniors over 75 in seniors’ homes. In Ontario, which has one of the poorest rates of only 5.2%, there are only a total of 53,680 spaces! This is less than half of Quebec’s total and less third of the rate of Quebec. The overall Canadian rate for over 75s is 8.9% which is still very low but much higher than that for Ontario.
But it is not just the number of spaces but the cost of this housing that is bad for Ontario seniors. The average rent for bachelor units or private rooms, where at least one meal is included, is now $2,107 per month in Canada. In Ontario, however, the average rent is $2815 per month, one of the highest rates. Compare this to Quebec where the rate is only $1521 per month.
Even more unacceptable are the rents per month for seniors in Ottawa ($3134) and Toronto ($3198). What this means is that even if they need seniors housing, only very well off seniors will be able to get housing in these cities.
Ontario is thus way behind Quebec, and also behind the Canadian average, and needs a major investment in seniors’ housing. Just to catch up with Quebec would require building some 127,673 new units to have the same rate as they do in Quebec and then with the seniors population increasing from 16% now to 25% by 2051, would demand another major increase of more than 50% of this figure.