Blaney calls for seniors strategy

Senior citizens can fall into the category of ‘most vulnerable Canadians,’ who are the focus of a National Housing Strategy.

Rachel Blaney would like to see a National Seniors Strategy to deal more efficiently with issues pertaining to citizens on the far side of 65.

“We’re seeing a growing wave of seniors,” the North Island-Powell River NDP MP said in a media teleconference Wednesday. “What we’re also unfortunately seeing is a lot more gaps opening and vulnerable seniors falling through those gaps. The stress on families is continuing to grow.”

By 2036, statistics indicate that one in four Canadians will be a senior citizen.

Blaney, who serves as the Critic for Seniors, was involved in a seniors study which she expects to be tabled next week in the House of Commons. The study was complied by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA).

“It was a long journey where we discussed the need for a National Seniors Strategy,” she said. “What I perceive is important about having a strategy is to have all levels of government working collaboratively to identify where’s there’s duplication of services, clear that up so there’s more services that are more relevant.”

The most vulnerable seniors tend to be women, often from different ethnic backgrounds.

“We need to figure out where those gaps are, and how we’re going to make sure seniors aren’t left behind,” Blaney said. “It’s really about having the national strategy addressing those issues.”

Pensions are an issue with some marriages where the husband has been the sole breadwinner. If the man needs to live in a care facility, most of his pension pays for it, and the wife is left with 20 per cent.

“What a lot of seniors are forced to do is legally separate and then divorce their partner,” Blaney said. “So you can imagine after 50 years of marriage, having to divorce them just to get more of their pension so you can survive.”