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Friday, May 27, 2022

Provincial election promises for seniors

BY TERRI WILLIAMS KINGHORN

With the provincial election just around the corner, I thought it might be interesting to review what the three major parties are saying they will do for seniors.  As we know, these are just promises, but it’s still good to know what each party is saying about senior issues.    This is what I found with an online search.

Liberals:  The Liberal Party said it will provide 400,000 more seniors with home care through a Home Care guarantee which will ensure all seniors get the professional assistance and support the need to stay in their own homes. It also says it will build 15,000 more assisted living homes and advance a community care model. It will expand and make permanent the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit that allows seniors to renovate their homes to make them safer; and make the Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit refundable, tax-free and paid out throughout the year and enhance access to support programs and tools for those who take care of loved ones.  It said it will end for-profit long-term care (with a target of 2028) and promises to build and redevelop 58,000 spaces in hundreds of smaller, non-profit care homes that look and feel like actual homes that have PSWs, nurses and other specialists on site 24/7. It will increase direct care at LTC to an average of at least four hours a day; and introduce stronger inspections, fines, and repeal legislation that protects LTC profits and caps wages. It will ensure closing for-profit homes doesn’t lead to longer wait times for seniors with no other option and beginning in 2023 no longer renew licenses for for-profit long-term care homes, as well as negotiate and finance the transfer of existing homes to not-for-profit entities and municipalities. The Liberals also promised to increase the amount (up to $1,000 more) low-income seniors receive from the province as a top up to federal Old Age Security payments.

Progressive Conservative:  The PC’s 2022 budget included a new tax credit aimed at frail seniors who still live at home and receive home care from a nurse or attendant. The new Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit will offer tax filers age 70 or up a credit of 25% of medical costs up to $6,000, for a maximum credit of $1,500. Seniors earning $65,000 a year or more are not eligible. It’s expected to help up to 200,000 seniors.  The PC government announced recently that it is on track to fulfill its 2018 election promise to build 30,000 net new long-term care beds by 2028, saying the province now has 31,705 new and 28,648 upgraded beds in development. It also announced that it plans to invest an additional $1 billion over three years to expand home care.

NDP:  The NDP will allow seniors to defer property taxes, making living in their own home more affordable.   This would save seniors about $375 a month in taxes, while the government would invest $1 billion in home-care services to support them. The tax deferral plan would allow seniors to wait to pay their property taxes until they sell their home. The additional spending would include $235 million in the first year of government to pay for things like transportation to appointments and help with meal preparations.  The NDP also pledged  to immediately stop renewing and issuing new for-profit licences for long-term care and to start transferring care to public and not-for-profit organizations. They would aim to build 50,000 new and modern beds.

Terri Williams, CFP® is a consumer advocate and personal finance specialist currently enjoying semi-retirement in Lakefield.  She is a member of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Seniors Expert Advisory Committee and is on the Board of Directors of Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield. prepare a formal response.