Among the most important things I’ve learned during my almost three years as MP, are the remarkable contributions seniors make to our communities every day. Without a doubt, they are among Canada’s most significant assets. We have much to learn from the wisdom of our seniors.
The federal government supports the contributions of older Canadians and celebrates their knowledge, experience, and diversity. Our goal is to provide opportunities that will enhance their independence and quality of life. When it comes to improving the lives of Canada’s seniors, I am proud of our government’s record.
During our first year in office, we increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up benefit for single seniors and enhanced the Canada Pension Plan. We also restored the eligibility age for Old Age Security and the GIS back to 65. Canadians were concerned about the former government’s changing the eligibility age to 67. We heard their concerns, and we acted.
Going door to door, I often hear from people who are approaching retirement age how pleased they are that we did act; and continue to act.
Changing the eligibility age back to 65 represents an essential step in ensuring vulnerable seniors don’t face higher risks of living in poverty. In July, we increased the old-age security benefit, which means a single senior receiving OAS and the GIS with no other income may receive $1,728.84 more today than in November 2015.
While getting money directly to seniors is critical, the federal government recognizes that New Brunswick is aging faster than the national average and that we need to make firm commitments now to ensure healthy aging. Our government’s $75-million investment into a New Brunswick Healthy Seniors Pilot Project is an example of that commitment.
Announced in Budget 2018, this pilot project will fund a range of initiatives that will measurably improve the lives of seniors across New Brunswick and Canada; ensuring that seniors are able to live safely in their homes, improving social and built environments, reducing health inequalities throughout communities, and encouraging healthy and active lifestyles.
Our government $16.6-million investment in UNB Fredericton’s brand new Centre for Healthy Living is another example of our commitment to healthy aging. The Centre establishes New Brunswick as a leader in supporting the rising demand for applied research in preventative and rehabilitative care.
The Centre for Healthy Living focuses on research into chronic disease prevention, exercise and healthy lifestyles. The Centre’s connection with UNB’s Department of Kinesiology and the Andrew and Marjorie McCain Human Performance Lab creates a nationally significant and innovative health-research cluster.
The Centre for Healthy Living symbolizes the benefits coming our way as a result of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which our government launched two years ago. The strategy drives economic development in our region by delivering concrete and measurable results.
For this project specifically, I was proud to champion our region’s capacity to pioneer new ways of addressing the challenges facing our healthcare system.
Within 15 years, almost one-in-four Canadians could be 65 or older, and with our province’s higher-than-the-national-average obesity rates, New Brunswick will face significant problems down the road with diseases such as diabetes. It’s clear, investments in healthy living will provide a greater sense of well-being not just for the people of our province where the effects of an aging population are most pronounced, but for all Canadians.
As with other New Brunswick research organizations in which the federal government invests, the Centre for Healthy Living, will be a proving ground for new, collaborative models. Its work will support the excellent research currently underway at the York Care Centre, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and the Fredericton Operational Stress Injury Clinic, one of the leading clinics in the country.
Through hard work, foresight and strategic investments on behalf of all Canadians, I’m confident our province will become respected throughout the world for innovations in healthy living, innovations that will provide us all with a greater sense of well-being.