Dear Dr. Hanley,
Seniors Action Yukon (SAY) is an independent volunteer organization that helps give voice to older adults on public affairs. SAY would like to offer our congratulations on your recent election as the Yukon’s Member of Parliament. As you know, during the campaign we sent out a questionnaire on some matters of interest to our members. All parties responded and we were very happy with the thoughtfulness and consideration given by each candidate.
This week marks the International Day of Older Persons (October 1). While you are waiting for the final return of the writ and your swearing in, we thought you might like to review a future-focused summary of your responses to our questionnaire and some additional thoughts from SAY.
What will you do to improve long-term care?
Make sure the conditions of work reflect the care standards our seniors deserve. Ensure continued efforts to ensure safer, better care for seniors. Liberal government will work with territories and provinces with investment of $9 billion over 5 years to support safer conditions and improved wages and working conditions. Commit to improve quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds, including implementing highest standard of infection prevention and control measures, and collaboratively developing a Safe Long-Term Care Act.
Comment: SAY wants to see national standards for long-term and residential care. They must be monitored regularly, with meaningful enforcement. Federal funding should be linked to meeting the national standards. Improved wages and working conditions and training programs for workers should be readily available, especially in rural and remote communities. In addition, home care support should be strengthened across the country, including consideration of including it under the Canada Health Act.
What is your position on publicly funded universal pharmacare?
Committed to a national, universal pharmacare program and to accelerate steps toward this including $500 million a year on a rare-disease strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs; establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low; and working with provinces and territories willing to move forward without delay (Canada and P.E.I. have signed the first such agreement this year).
Comment: SAY believes that a public, single-payer pharmacare system is essential to maintain the health of all Canadians and ease some of the burden on the health care system. The recent report on National Pharmacare should be fully implemented as a priority.
Do you believe mental health services should be covered under the Canada Health Act, i.e., publicly funded the same as other medical services?
Yes. Every Canadian should have the right to receive timely mental health care as a core health service. Liberal government will establish a new federal transfer to provinces and territories to assist jurisdictions to expand delivery of high-quality, free mental health services building on principles of universality and accessibility in the Canada Health Act. Will provide initial investment of $4.5 billion over five years for this transfer payment.
Comment: SAY welcomes your support. We believe mental health should be covered, and would encourage expanding coverage across Canada to include dental care, as well as prescribed physiotherapy and massage services.
How will you help overcome the lack of affordable housing suitable for seniors?
Affordable age-friendly housing is as critical as access to health care to enable aging in place. Liberal government will move forward with a three-part housing plan A home for everyone. This plan will help renters save for a down payment faster; reduce the monthly cost of mortgages; and double the home buyers tax credit. We will build, preserve or repair 1.4 million homes in four years to increase supply. We will create a Home Buyers’ Bill of Rights, banning blind bidding, establishing a legal right to a home inspection, and banning new foreign ownership for two years. Specific to seniors, we will double the Home Accessibility Tax Credit to $20,000 putting up to $1,500 back in the hands of Canadians who need it; establish an expert panel on establishing an Aging at Home benefit; and introduce a 1-800 help line for seniors to provide a single point of access for government services and benefits.
Comment: SAY supports affordable age-friendly housing initiatives, with an emphasis on measures for people to age in place as a choice, and services and programs to ensure this is possible. Action is also needed on affordable and suitable rental housing supply as well as support – the current Canada-Yukon Housing Benefit that provides rent subsidies already has a waitlist.
Again, congratulations on your election and we look forward to updates on these important matters during your term.
Seniors Action Yukon Co-ordinating Team