Minister of Finance
Province of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dr. Edgar Williams
CARP St. John’s-Avalon Chapter
January 28, 2009
Who we are:
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization which is committed to advocating for a better quality of life for Canadians as we age and for social change that will bring financial security, equitable and timely access to health care and freedom from discrimination.
CARP has 350,000 members across the country with about 4,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have 20 chapters across the country from Victoria, BC to St. John’s. The St. John’s-Avalon Chapter has been in existence longer than most of the other Chapters.
There are approximately 14.5 million Canadians 45 years of age or older, of whom 210,000 live in Newfoundland and Labrador, representing 42% of both the Canadian and the Newfoundland and Labrador population. Canadians over the age of 65 now number 4.6 million of whom 67,000 live in Newfoundland and Labrador. These are the citizens whose future prospects have been seriously affected by the recent economic downturn.
Further, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, 62 percent of those who have retired survive solely on the Old Age pension, the GIS and CPP. Of greater significance is the fact that the annual income of 62 percent of females in this province over the age of 65 is less than $15,000.
It is worth noting that Canadians 45 plus are the most engaged and active voters. Seventy percent vote regularly. In the 2004 federal election, they cast nearly 9 million ballots, or 64 per cent of all votes cast. The same is true at the provincial level. The obvious point is that both federal and provincial politicians would be wise to listen to older Canadians and ensure that the major concerns expressed by them are addressed. As the number of older Canadians increases to become perhaps the largest cohort within the total population, it will be necessary for our political masters to be more cognizant of the issues advocated by older Canadians. Without the support of older voters, not only individuals but also governments would have difficulty getting elected. In fact, the outcome of the most recent federal election was determined more by older Canadians than any other group.
The recommendations we make are not demands for major public spending but for a realignment of public priorities that will lever rather than replace the endeavours and contributions of a demographic that has thrived on self-reliance. We have not lost sight of those needing income support and recommend measures that would provide immediate relief as well as allow people to continue taking responsibility for themselves and their loved ones.
Most of our recommendations require federal provincial cooperation and the current economic crisis presents an opportunity to overcome historic jurisdictional disputes.
Response to the Economic Crisis
The market chaos that has enveloped the country has been particularly challenging for retirees but also for those who would like to retire. Canadians have watched their retirement savings disappear before their eyes and those who have retired or are facing retirement are the least able to do anything about it or to replace those losses.