Question Period: Inclusivity for Seniors

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: My question is for Senator Gold. Senator Gold, the 2024 federal budget falls short, as it is not inclusive for all seniors. While the 10% increase in the Old Age Security pension for seniors aged 75 and older is a step in the right direction, it overlooks those aged 65 to 75. Furthermore, seniors aged 65 to 75 may face additional barriers because of disabilities, gender, racialization or Indigeneity or other intersecting identities, and they risk falling into poverty due to these benefit limitations. The budget lacks comprehensive measures for all seniors.

Senator Gold, what will Canada do to ensure that budgets address these gaps to ensure financial security for all seniors?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question, and for underlining the challenge that many seniors of different ages continue to face.

The government will always consider measures to improve the federal government’s ability to provide support to Canadians. The current budget and, for many years, this government’s investments have done their best to assist. There’s always, of course, room to improve, and the government is always open to suggestions in that direction.

Senator Bernard: Senator Gold, I have a particular interest in Black seniors. Yesterday, I had the pleasure to attend and participate in the launch of a summit, led by Dr. Josephine Etowa at the University of Ottawa, planning for 10 years of research on Black health. One of the speakers, Dr. Cénat — who is actually here today — noted that there is a lack of quantitative data on Black seniors in Canada, but we know they are likely to be disproportionately impacted by issues of poverty. What else is the Canadian government doing?

Senator Gold: I’m not really in a position to answer that specific question, as important and broad as it is.

What resonates with me, among other things, is the importance of proper data and disaggregated data so that we can understand not only generally how certain age cohorts are faring, but also how other factors — race and others — intersect to aggravate or complicate those disadvantages.

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