On Sunday, October 28th my colleague Rob Oliphant and I hosted a town hall meeting on seniors’ issues at the Manor Road United Church. We were joined by a very special guest, the Hon. Filomena Tassi, Minister of Seniors. The afternoon proved very successful – one of our best town halls yet! I was thrilled with the incredible turnout, and that there were so many thoughtful insights and suggestions!
One of the most important subjects raised in our discussion was elder abuse and the prevalence of vulnerable seniors. This is something that our government takes very seriously – in fact, Minister Tassi has been mandated by the Prime Minister to address this very issue! Additionally, Minister Tassi pointed out that one of the objectives of the New Horizons for Seniors Program – a great Government of Canada initiative that supports community programming – is to empower seniors and combat elder abuse.
Pensions, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement were also important topics of discussion at Sunday’s meeting. Our government is proud to have returned the Old Age Security eligibility age to sixty-five and to have made increases to the Guaranteed Income Supplement, allowing Canadian seniors and future retirees to be provided greater security and a better quality of life. I was particularly happy to discuss “freedom 65” – the idea that individuals in vulnerable situations or abusive relationships can remove themselves sooner thanks to greater financial independence.
Perhaps one of the most important issues discussed was concern arising from the cost of prescription medications and the question of a national pharmacare program. The April 2018 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health recommended the move towards a universal single payer public prescription drug coverage program. As well, the Government has established an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, which is set to present its results next summer.
Some of the other issues brought to light in our discussion were the role that seniors can play in combatting climate change, working with provincial partners to provide efficient health services, seniors’ voter turnout, progress on end of life decision making, and the financial accessibility of public transportation.
Sunday’s event was a fantastic example of why our Toronto-St. Paul’s model of “democracy between elections” is so important to me – especially as a Parliamentarian. It is crucial that citizens are able to speak directly with their elected representatives about government policy and have their concerns taken seriously. I very much enjoyed participating in this important conversation., and I look forward to our next community discussion!