(special to TideChange)

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney expressed disappointment with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to her request for a commitment to a national seniors strategy.

In a media teleconference on October 5, Blaney, who sits on the committee examining the seniors support system as it exists and what is needed, asked the Prime Minister specifically if he would commit to creating a national strategy. His response was a that he knew “the NDP love their national strategies” but that “one of the first things this government did was raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement by 10% for our most vulnerable seniors.”

Trudeau also stated that his government was delivering on a national housing strategy to ensure seniors retire in safety and security. According to Blaney, this strategy is to be revealed in November this year.Trudeau also stated that the government is working on these issues “every single day and will continue to”.

Blaney said what has been missing is a commitment to a legislated national strategy, making housing and support essential services, by including them in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She has asked for this to be considered in a Private Members Bill, which began debate on October 2. A national strategy was recommended in the 1970s, and a Senate Committee at the time made 34 recommendations – but nothing has changed, she remarked.

She revealed that although government ministers agree that this kind of support is essential for seniors, they have made it apparent that they are not willing to support legislation that will make it so. She said that different areas of the country, particularly rural ones, or those with a high percentage of seniors, as in the Comox Valley, have different challenges to those in cities. These need to be addressed with input from those areas, not incorporated into a policy that favours larger population areas.

In addition, according to Blaney, the $11 billion committed by the federal government to address senior’s housing will not be provided until after the next election.

It’s needed right now,” she stated.