Grey Power 42 — April 24, 2014

John Fryters
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Did you have the opportunity to reflect on last week's column?  Many of the announcements made in the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's 2014 budget will indeed be beneficial to seniors today.  If you do not understand some of the announcements, get in touch with your member of Parliament (in Prince Albert, Randy Hoback) and get some more clarifications.

Also access some of the services which are outlined or which are already in existence for seniors in this country.

Again, we need to understand that though the 2014 federal budget is not harming seniors (in fact, it appears to be beneficial), one budget like this is not going to solve all the problems of the fastest growing segment of our population, namely the elderly over the age of 65.  Strategic planning by governments (not only our federal government) with the actual dollars to follow is going to provide some permanent solutions.  So, keep up the pressure on all levels of government.  They will have to listen as we will be holding more than 25 per cent of the votes in any given region in Canada in the next few elections.

Here are some more excerpts from the 2014 Federal budget, announced on Feb. 11, 2014:


Tax Relief for a Senior Couple 

Example: Dylan and Gisele are a senior couple receiving $55,000 and $27,000 respectively in pension income. As a result of actions taken by the Government since 2006, they will pay $2,321 less in personal income tax, including $618 from broad-based income tax relief, $738 they have saved by taking advantage of pension income splitting, and $965 from the doubling of the Pension Income Credit amount and the increases in the Age Credit amount.

Dylan and Gisele will also pay $749 less in GST because of the Government's reduction of the GST rate from seven per cent to five per cent. This adds up to a total of $3,070 in tax relief for 2014, allowing Dylan and Gisele to keep more of their pension income for everyday expenses.


Helping Older Workers Get back to work

Economic Action Plan 2014 invests $75 million in the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers to support older workers who want to participate in the job market.

A strong national economy creates funding stability for national seniors programs (OAS, GIS)

(In his budget speech, Minister Flaherty inserted here examples that the current government's Economic Action Plan has been working)

While not all veterans in Canada are seniors, many of them are.  So, announcements pertaining to veterans, in many instances also pertain to seniors.


Expanding the Funeral and Burial Program for Modern-Day Veterans

Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes $108.2 million over three years, starting in 2013-14, to expand eligibility for the Funeral and Burial Program to ensure that modern-day veterans of modest means have access to a dignified funeral and burial.

The government wants to ensure that the men and women who fought for our country have access to the programs and services they need. This includes a commitment to providing a dignified funeral and burial for veterans of modest financial means.  

Economic Action Plan 2013 invested $65 million over two years to simplify the Funeral and Burial Program for veterans' estates and to increase the funeral services reimbursement rate from $3,600 to $7,376.  Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes a further investment of $108.2 million over three years, starting in 2013-14, to expand eligibility of the program to ensure that modern-day veterans of modest means have access to a dignified funeral and burial.

The Government of Canada offers a comprehensive suite of programs to ensure that veterans and their families receive the services and support that they need. This includes a number of financial benefits and allowances to disabled veterans, such as:

• A tax-free disability pension of up to $2,617 per month for a single veteran without dependent children.

• A tax-free lump-sum disability award of up to $301,275.

• A benefit of up to $1,725 per month to compensate permanently and severely impaired veterans for the lack of career opportunities.

• A benefit of up to $1,057 per month for permanently and severely impaired veterans who cannot find suitable, gainful employment.

The government also provides income replacement support to veterans that includes:

• A payment to ensure that post-release income of veterans undergoing a rehabilitation process or who are totally and permanently incapacitated does not fall below 75 per cent of the veteran's pre-release salary, with a minimum salary currently set at $42,426.

• A tax-free payment of up to $1,411 per month for a single disabled veteran without dependent children who has completed a rehabilitation process, who is able to work, but has not been able to find a job or has a low-paying job.

In addition, veterans have access to a range of health and rehabilitation services, including:

• Vocational support and career counseling programs that can provide up to $75,800 in vocational rehabilitation and training.

• Physical and psychological health treatments.

• Support to help aging veterans remain independent and self-sufficient in their home and community.

• Support for disabled and aging veterans residing in long-term care facilities.

In 2012-13, the government spent approximately $3.1 billion in direct support for veterans and their families.

Of course, we only highlighted items which pertain to seniors (and veterans) specifically.  Many of these items should never be read in total isolation from the rest of the budget document, which, by the way, is hundreds of pages in length.  A good example would be that the government claims to pay out a lot of retirement benefits, but one needs to understand that working people in Canada (seniors) paid premiums to receive those benefits.  

So, though it is called a benefit (by any government of the day), it truly is not a benefit -- it is a direct result of a pension plan which was started by government many, many years ago.

As said before, we need to continue to put the pressure on our elected officials at all levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal).  Over the next few weeks, I will spend a little bit of time to highlight what the Saskatchewan government did for us.

Keep up the pressure, that's how we retain “Grey Power”!!!


John Fryters is a 65-year-old senior citizen who wants to assist anyone in his peer group with information for and about seniors.  He can be reached at

Organizations: Targeted Initiative for Older Workers

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan

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