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Cowichan Valley residents rally for climate change action at the Global Climate Strike in Duncan on Sept. 20, 2019. Jenny Holden/The Discourse Cowichan

What will candidates do for seniors and veterans?

We sent Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP candidates your election questions. Here’s what we heard.

What will federal candidates in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford do for seniors and veterans? That’s a question we at The Discourse Cowichan heard from you after we launched Set The Agenda. The project aims to put the people back in control of the election discourse. We sent some of your questions to Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP candidates via email. On each of the five days ahead of election day, we’ll publish the answers we’ve received.

  • Oct. 16: What will you do for seniors and veterans?
  • Oct. 17: What will you do to limit sprawl in Cowichan and make sure development is sustainable and farmland protected?
  • Oct. 18: Will you lead us through a national conversation on dismantling systemic racism and what would be your first steps?
  • Oct. 19: What concrete steps can we take to build more connected and resilient communities?
  • Oct. 20: How will you balance the need to keep people working with the climate action that needs to be done?  

Today, the question is: What will you do for seniors and veterans? As of Oct. 16 The Discourse received answers from four of six candidates. Alana DeLong’s campaign manager, with the Conservative Party, referred us to Conservative.ca for all policy announcements. Rhonda Chen, with the People’s Party of Canada, has not responded to the request. To establish the order of responses, I’ll draw names from hats today and rotate the order in upcoming articles. Here are the full responses we’ve received so far.

Blair Herbert, Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal government supports its seniors and veterans; in the last four years, it has:

  • Reduced the age for accessing OAS and GIS from 67 to 65 years;
  • Proactively enrolled seniors, aged 70 and up, into CPP if they were not already enrolled;
  • Invested $50 million to support the implementation of Canada’s first ever National Dementia Strategy to support those living with dementia and their caregivers;
  • Invested $10 billion in better care, support and services for Veterans and their families;
  • Re-instated lifelong pensions for Veterans; 
  • Re-opened all nine Veterans Affairs Offices closed by the previous Conservative government; and
  • Introduced a new education and training benefit for Veterans.

All of these investments will continue with a re-elected Liberal government; as well, there will be further investments, for example, a 25% increase in the CPP survivor benefit and a 10% increase in the OAS at the age of 75 years.  

Alistair MacGregor, New Democratic Party

New Democrats believe that everyone deserves to age with dignity. Over the last 4 years as Member of Parliament I have seen how the previous governments cuts have made it harder for seniors to get by and veterans to access the services they need. 

A NDP government will lead a National Seniors Strategy that will work with the provinces, territories and Indigenous governments to make seniors health care a priority, reduce isolation, and tackle seniors’ poverty. This will include a funded national dementia strategy, and an elder abuse prevention plan.

Our national Pharmacare plan will provide prescription medicine to all, saving seniors and all Canadians hundreds of dollars every year and ensuring that no one needs to choose between medicine and rent or food, again. 

We will also put in place a one-year delay to help seniors at risk of having their GIS benefits suspended for being unable to make the required income statements, so that no seniors are missing out on essential benefits because of a paperwork oversight. 

The NDP will make the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit refundable and expand it to help make life a little more affordable for caregivers, who are often seniors or spouses of veterans. 

Every senior and veteran should have a safe and affordable place to call home. Our commitment to create half a million affordable housing units in the next decade will include accessible housing that will increase choices for seniors and veterans. We’ll also support connection to community and tackle seniors’ isolation by working with cities to make transit more affordable and convenient, create more community recreation spaces, and support innovative housing solutions like intergenerational co-housing. 

We have all heard the shameful stories about our federal government fighting our Veterans in courts. It’s time for this to stop!

A New Democrat government will launch a full review of benefits and work with veterans to determine the best way to provide fair benefits to all veterans, including tackling the issue of equal access to lifetime pensions. We’ll get rid of backlogs and step up high-quality, personalized service delivery by providing one caseworker for every twenty-five veterans, and improving services that are delivered by phone and online. 

Robin Stanbridge, Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Veterans have been systematically discriminated against by the liberal and conservative parties alike. I firmly believe too many come home with extreme psychological trauma. We need to support people suffering from exposure to the sort of world our children are very likely to live in at this rate. We need beyond everything else extremely wise people guiding our military personnel. The manner in which the military are treated at home is terrifyingly indicative of the intelligence they are expected to act upon abroad.

The argument for assisted suicide depends upon the premise that the illness of issue is incurable. Yet we spend enormously on subsidizing poor lifestyles. Why not stop taxing cigarettes and let smokers pay for their own pulmonary procedures? We should be working with the private sector to advance remedies and systems for enhancing quality of life, in stead of violating the Hippocratic oath. To Veterans and Seniors alike, the highest dignity in death, is surrendering one’s body when terminally ill to advance cures and in the interest of the utility of wider society. There is absolutely no dignity in suicide. Assisted suicide doesn’t just kill the patient, it kills medicine.

Lydia Hwitsum, Green Party of Canada

Seniors comprise a growing proportion of Canada’s total population, a majority of whom are women. They built the society we now enjoy, have a wealth of experience and continue to contribute to the economic and social life of our communities and country. An essential duty of the social contract between government and citizens is to make sure people can live fulfilling and dignified lives in their senior years. Green Party pledges such as the Guaranteed Livable Income, Pharmacare, public transportation, home retrofits and affordable housing all contribute to seniors’ quality of life.

A Green government will also develop a National Seniors Strategy with the following priorities:

  • Ensure the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) remains robust and adaptive to changing needs and circumstances by increasing over time the target income replacement rate from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of income received during working years.
  • Regulate the CPP Investment Board to require divestment of coal, oil and gas shares and ensure that all investments are ethical and promote environmental sustainability.
  • Support innovative home-sharing plans and other measures to allow people to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Create more long-term care beds in neighbourhood facilities.
  • Protect private pensions by amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to establish the preeminence of pensioners and the pension plan in the creditor hierarchy during company insolvency proceedings.
  • In collaboration with health professionals and provincial/territorial governments, develop and fund a national dementia strategy. Within 25 years, the number of Canadians living with a form of dementia could reach 1.3 million, imposing the highest economic, social, and health costs of all diseases. The strategy would support research, improve quality of life for patients and care givers, and educate the public to increase awareness and reduce stigma.
  • Amend the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation to ensure that everyone has the choice of dying with dignity. This includes allowing advance directives and guaranteeing the right to draw up a “living will” that gives individuals the power to limit or refuse medical intervention and treatment.

Veterans:

The Green Party values the work and sacrifices of all Canadian Forces and RCMP veterans and active personnel and will ensure that veterans and their families are well cared for. The fact that suicide rates among veterans are climbing is a clear indication that they are not getting the services and supports they need. A Green government will step up to provide long overdue comprehensive services for veterans.

  • Provide support for all veterans including disabled veterans that allows them to live in dignity. Ensure that services to veterans and their family members are fully integrated and funded.
  • Launch a national re-examination of veterans’ issues in December 2019 based on good-faith engagement with military families and veterans, including issues relating to pensions and benefits. The goal is to identify necessary reforms and changes to programs to better meet veterans’ needs.
  • In the meantime, restore periodic payments to veterans at pre-2006 levels.
  • Repeal the section of the Superannuation Act the denies pensions to surviving spouses of certain workers, including RCMP and veterans, who married after 60.
  • Work with veterans’ organizations to review and update the Veterans Charter and the processes, structure and mandate of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to ensure all veterans are treated fairly and with respect.
  • Ensure that all veterans have access to health care, mental health support and treatments. Military personnel with PTSD must be treated as highly valued people whose health needs to be restored, rather than as liabilities who need to be removed.

Further reading


Set The Agenda is a collaborative journalism project between The Discourse, APTN and Hearken. A portion of the funding for this project comes from partners including Inspirit Foundation and the Facebook Journalism Project. Funding support of the project does not imply endorsement of or influence over the content produced.