When Stephen Harper is not crooning songs to Israel, writing books about hockey or aggressively pushing forward the Keystone XL agenda, he’s thinking about older Canadians. That’s right: today his government has launched the seniors.gc.ca website, a central source of information for seniors, their families and caregivers.
The site is called “Information for Caregivers”, and it provides an interactive map of federal, provincial and some municipal resources on financial information, care options, powers of attorney, health, mental health and dementia.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping seniors quickly access information about programs and services they need and use in their communities,” said Minister Alice Wong. “That is why today we are launching the new Information for Caregivers portal on seniors.gc.ca, which provides information about relevant programs and benefits for seniors and their caregivers.”
Including the recently launched ‘Information for Seniors’ section, the new website provides information on a range of key initiatives like the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which supports projects led or inspired by seniors who want to make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities. Measures to increase awareness of elder abuse are also included on the site.
“It will help families navigate the complex array of government programs and services at all levels. It is comprehensive and user-friendly, which will come as a great relief to people who are often running from pillar to post to get the help they need for themselves or their loved ones,” said Susan Eng, the vice president of CARP, a senior citizen advocacy group.
In a release the federal government also indicated several initiatives that it has pushed forward for senior citizens in Canada. Those include providing Canadians with close to $76 billion this year through Canada’s public pension system and a top-up to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to help Canada’s most vulnerable seniors, the largest increase in 25 years to the GIS for the lowest-income seniors.
As well, the government said it has provided:
- $2.7 billion in 2013 in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting and increasing the Age credit;
- providing $400 million over two years under Canada’s Economic Action Plan for the construction of housing units for low-income seniors;
- actions to address elder abuse, which include awareness campaigns, the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), which funds projects to raise awareness of elder abuse, and legislation that would help ensure consistently tough penalties for offences involving the abuse of elderly persons;
- increasing funding to the NHSP by $5 million, bringing the Program’s annual budget to $45 million. The Program helps seniors use their leadership abilities, energy and skills to benefit communities across Canada; and
- supporting positive and active aging through the collaborative Age-Friendly Communities Initiative, Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults and falls-prevention initiatives.