Report from Parliament Hill
Budget 2019 aims to improve the lives of seniors in the North
Bob Nault, MP, Kenora Riding
With the release of Budget 2019 last week, we can clearly see the momentum of our strategic investments in our growing economy. The fact is that over 900,000 jobs have been created since 2016, and we have seen the lowest unemployment rates in 40 years. With that in mind, we can now focus on other ways to continue improving the lives of Northerners and Canadians.
With the recent appointment of a Minister of Seniors, I’m confident that the decision to create a new ministry will help governments better understand the challenges seniors are facing, as well as to ensure that programs and services are better designed to respond to their needs. As part of this effort, Budget 2019 sets out to further improve their lives, by providing an affordable place to call home, a secure retirement, the start of a national pharmacare program, and increasing overall investments into seniors programming.
For seniors, it can be challenging to find safe, accessible housing in our region. The measures proposed in Budget 2019 will increase the supply of housing to help more seniors find affordable housing. Just this month, the Kenora riding received investments of over $5.1 million to address housing shortages in Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, and Red Lake.
It is important for Northerners to be able to retire with confidence and enjoy a dignified retirement after a lifetime of work. To put that into action, we’re ensuring that seniors receive the full value of their pension by enrolling them automatically into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). This will guarantee that contributors who are 70 years old or older, and who have not yet applied for their retirement pension, be enrolled without having to fill out an application. We’re also enhancing the security of workplace pensions to better protect them, in the event a corporation declares bankruptcy or insolvency. This will give many of our seniors’ greater peace of mind when it comes to their retirement.
Our healthcare system, which is the envy of the world, primarily provides healthcare based on your health needs and not on your ability to pay. However, not everyone has access to prescription drugs. Measures introduced within Budget 2019 will help Northerners afford the prescription drugs they need, which is fundamental to a universal health care system. By working with partners, we plan to move forward on three foundational elements of national pharmacare. First, the creation of the Canadian Drug Agency that would assess the effectiveness of new prescription drugs and negotiate prices on behalf of Canada’s drug plans. Second, we’re taking steps to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based list of prescribed drugs, and finally, we’re working to establish a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.
A senior’s quality of life is often measured by their participation in our communities. The New Horizons for Seniors (NHFS) program supports projects that provide new equipment for seniors’ centers, create volunteer opportunities, and support senior-driven initiatives. We’re providing the NHFS with $100 million over five years, starting in 2019-20. This year alone, nine organizations in the Kenora riding received over $150,000, all of which were lead or inspired by seniors to help improve their quality of life.
I believe that to fully honour and recognizing our seniors, we require an approach which will positively impact their lives. That’s why I’m very proud that our government is putting people first. As a Northerner, first and foremost, I want to ensure seniors have a place to call home, can retire with confidence, have access to affordable prescription drugs, and can participate fully in society. After all, they have built our country into what it is today, and now it is our time to thank them.