MP’s COLUMN: Seniors during COVID-19 and beyond

‘COVID-19 has disproportionately affected seniors and has exposed the gaps in the care and supports that seniors need’

For this week’s news column, I felt it was important to address the concerns that were brought to light about seniors’ care.

Like many Canadians, I was horrified to read the reports the Canadian Armed Forces published on the status of some seniors’ homes in Quebec and Ontario.

Many of you have reached out to voice your concerns about ensuring that those who built our nation are able to live comfortably and with dignity in their later years.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected seniors and has exposed the gaps in the care and supports that seniors need.

The report released by the CAF detailed unbelievable abuse and neglect at several long-term care homes in other parts of the country. The details outlined were tough to read. These findings are unacceptable. While the homes mentioned are not located in Alberta, this problem touches all Canadians.

It is because of the hard work of our seniors that Canadians enjoy a remarkably high standard of living. There is a need to ensure that seniors, who have worked diligently their entire lives, are able to retire and live with dignity during their later years. There is no question that work needs to be done by every level of government to address this. This is an example of where we truly need a ‘Team Canada’ approach.

As your Member of Parliament, I have been advocating for supports during the COVID-19 crisis. Now, as this crisis de-escalates, the conversation needs to continue. This includes ensuring seniors are cared for, including not just their physical health, but also their spiritual and mental well-being.

Seniors also need to have a secure and predicable retirement income that is protected from the growing risks of fraud and uncertainty. We also need to ensure seniors have access to the quality care they need in the communities they live. And no one facing the end of their life should be denied access to palliative care.

There has been a number of supports made available for seniors during this crisis: a GST rebate and reduced minimum RRIF withdrawals.

In addition to these supports, the Government announced that seniors will receive a one-time payment of up to $500 which will be delivered on the week of July 6th. Those who qualify for the Old Age Security Benefit are eligible for a tax-free payment of $300.

Individuals who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement will get an additional $200. Seniors who qualify for both will receive $500. This, however, is not enough.

My Conservative colleagues and I are committed to seeing this addressed. We owe it to our seniors, for all their contributions, to help them in their golden years and to ensure their care and dignity.

Finally, I would like to commend the efforts of all front-line workers, and specifically point out the Canadian Armed Forces, for aiding seniors during the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are doing an exemplary job and deserve the gratitude of all Canadians.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about seniors’ issues please do not hesitate to contact my office. My staff and I are ready to help.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th St., Camrose. The postal code is T4V 1P9. You can also call 780-608-4600, text 403.575-5625, or e-mail damien.kurek@parl.gc.ca.

You can also stay up to date with what Damien is up to by following him on social media @dckurek.

Damien C. Kurek is the MP for Battle River-Crowfoot.

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