06/05/2014 05:57 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:01 EDT

Seniors Can't Age With Dignity Under the Conservative Plan


Canadians are worried about their retirement years. For families struggling just to make ends meet, saving enough for retirement seems more like a dream than a real possibility. But instead of taking action to address financial security for seniors, the Conservative government has acted recklessly, raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and backtracking on plans to support and expand the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan.

Today, more than a quarter million seniors live below the poverty line. If we don't take action now, how many more will fall into poverty in the future? The Conservatives have cut health care funding and unilaterally announced that in the future, funding to provinces will no longer be based on need. As Canadians age, we need to have a strong, stable healthcare system that efficiently targets funding to where it will make the most difference -- not an irresponsible approach that ignores the needs of Canadians.

Seniors also need adequate and inclusive housing, a supportive social environment that fosters quality of life, and targeted support for the most vulnerable populations. Over the next two decades, the number of seniors in Canada will increase significantly. People should be able to age with dignity. We need the federal government to work with the provinces and territories, and with seniors and their organizations, to make that a reality.

I have been talking to seniors and seniors' organizations for the past few years, listening to what they have to say and learning what needs to be done. With that information I worked with my colleagues to build a National Aging Strategy. I am proud to say that strategy was released to a round table of stakeholders on June 3.

Our plan highlights the need for high-quality, accessible public health care. This is critical for seniors managing the demands of aging -- often coping with multiple and chronic health challenges. Our growing seniors population needs a proactive approach to their health care -- one that will also ease the upward pressure on health care costs.

Our plan also points to the need as Canadians age, for affordable and appropriate housing that adapts to changing needs. This is crucial for seniors' quality of life. Over and over we heard from seniors that remaining in their own homes and communities is a priority for them. Our plan will help make that possible.

The plan also highlights what we need to do to ensure that seniors have financial security upon retirement. Too many Canadians do not have sufficient retirement savings and far too many are living in poverty. Canadian seniors should not have to struggle to make ends meet.

And finally, our plan also addresses issues seniors face beyond the minimal standards of living. While the basic needs of food, shelter and medical care are extremely important, seniors also deserve quality of life and initiatives that improve their lives. Some seniors also face additional hardships in retirement. We address groups facing additional challenges including women, First Nations, LGBTQ and ethno-cultural communities.

To read more about the NDP's plan visit this website.