After touring the Thorold Seniors Centre and playing snooker and shuffleboard with local members, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos gave an overview of Budget 2019, highlighting “The importance of investing in people, in the middle-class, in particular. In Canada, though things are better than they were a few years ago, many still struggle to make ends meet.”
In Niagara, 110,000 people receive CPP; 98,000 receive Old Age Security; 25,000 receive GIS and 78,000 families receive child care benefits.
The latter has helped lift 300,000 children out of poverty, stated Duclos.
“When we leave too many children in poverty, they don’t develop to their full potential.”
“Helping seniors is also a very important part of our agenda,” he added. “Not only do seniors deserve to retire in dignity and safety, but they continue to contribute to our society, by helping their children and grandchildren,” by working part-time and volunteering.
“Many of our vulnerable seniors are women, because they tend to live longer and they tend to be more numerous and healthier than previous generations, and widows, because their spouses have left.”
An annual supplement of $950 has “helped many of them pay for necessities,” said Duclos.
Through Budget 2019, the Minister revealed the government’s four-pronged proposal to help seniors.
Increasing funding to the New Horizons for Seniors program, by up to 50 per cent, supporting projects that provide new equipment for seniors’ centres, offer financial literary classes, and other opportunities. “In Niagara, we have 11 such programs helping seniors help seniors,” stated Duclos, which are “very successful.”
Ensuring Canadian workers receive the full value of their pension by automatically enrolling CPP contributors who are 70 years or older and who have not yet applied for their retirement pension. “I have heard many find out too late they have missed out on benefits,” Duclos told ThoroldNews, mainly “because of isolation, they are unaware” that they are entitled to receive benefits. “We are now making it automatic for CPP and GIS. That will help 17,000 seniors a month receive help, without filling out complicated forms.”
Helping seniors who wish to work by enhancing the GIS earnings exemption. “Another frustration I have heard many times over the last three years is that they need help to make ends meet at age 65 and 66,” said Duclos. “They then find out if they work to supplement their income, the GIS is reduced. That is changing as of last week. Seniors who are able to continue working after age 66 will be able to keep up to $4,000 more—for employees—to $6,000—for self-employed seniors—in their pockets.”
Enhancing the security of workplace pensions through new measures that better protect pensions in the event of corporate insolvency.
Accompanied by Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, Duclos told Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini: “You can count on Vance and Chris to support your important work.”
“I’m extremely proud to be part of the government that’s making a difference to Canadians,” said Badawey. Since we were elected, our government has a proven track record to have a more secure and dignified retirement.”
Bittle added: “We all know in Niagara the difficult circumstances we face, especially over the last 20 years. I wanted to run because I saw people struggling, and living paycheck to paycheck. We are involved in a government that helps people.”
Some of those measures include boosting benefits for nearly 900,000 low-income seniors and lifting about 57,000 out of poverty by increasing GIS top-up payments for Canada’s most vulnerable seniors; restoring the Old Age Security and GIS benefits to 65 from 67—after it was raised by the previous government; increasing benefits for couples who receive GIS and Allowance benefits and are forced to live apart for reasons beyond their control; and enhancing the CPP, which will raise the maximum CPP retirement benefit by up to 50 per cent over time, by working in collaboration with provincial partners.
Ugulini made special mention of Dominic Ventresca and Jean D’Amelio Swyer, who “continue to make great strides” as leaders of Thorold’s active Age-Friendly movement.
“Seniors are integral to society,” said Ugulini; “and contribute in so many ways—volunteering their time, talent and skills; and contribute to our economy. We are proud to make this announcement at our beautiful seniors’ facility.”
The mayor thanked Badawey, who’s “been tremendous, any time we call his office,” as well as Duclos for coming to Thorold, and added that he intended to escort the minister on a tour of the Canal.