Federal Seniors Minister stops in Kingston

Over $61 million invested in senior community-based projects across Canada

The New Horizons for Senior Program provides federal funding.
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Canada’s Minister of Seniors Kamal Khera visited the Seniors Association Kingston Region on Jan. 19 to announce measures to help Canadian seniors. Khera was accompanied by Mark Gerretsen, member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.

Khera sent a statement to The Journal outlining how the Government of Canada has helped seniors since the pandemic.

“As we are slowly out of the pandemic that affected everyone across the world in so many different ways, I am glad of the work we did as a government to support all Canadians, but particularly the most vulnerable such as seniors, low-income families, front-line workers, and many others,” Khera said.

Khera said she worked as a registered nurse during COVID-19, volunteering on the front lines to administer vaccines and working in one of Brampton’s hardest-hit long-term care homes.

“As a nurse, I saw firsthand the devastating effects of COVID-19—I saw and felt a lot of loss. It was an incredibly challenging time for many,” she added.

Making sure the government is supporting the aging population with the right set of programs and policies is crucial, Khera said.

“Last July, we increased the Old Age Security Pension by 10 per cent for seniors 75 and older, representing $800 for full pensioners. This is the first permanent increase since 1973, other than adjustments due to inflation and this will strengthen the financial security of 3.3 million seniors.”

Last year, the government delivered one-time payments to compensate seniors who qualified for and received pandemic benefits in 2020, but subsequently saw their Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowance benefits negatively impacted, Khera said.

Since many seniors depend on the internet to stay in touch with family, Ottawa launched a technological initiative to provide affordable high-speed internet plans for low-income seniors in 2022.

Another initiative was the $7500 Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit for families who want to build a secondary unit in their home for seniors or adults with disabilities.

“Being close to their loved ones is so important for many families and seniors,” Khera said.

Khera spoke about the New Horizons for Senior Program (NHSP), a federal grants and contributions program that provides funding for projects that make a difference in the lives of seniors and their communities.

“The NHSP for Seniors Program is among the most applied programs in the federal government and it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of seniors across Canada and right here in Ontario,” Khera said.

This past year, over $61 million was invested in over 3,000 community-based projects across Canada.

Organizations that submit applications to the community stream are eligible to receive up to $25,000 in federal funding to help them implement programs that combat social isolation, educate seniors about fraud and scam tactics, provide opportunities for them to stay active or learn new skills, and maintain a strong presence in their communities.

“One of my favourite parts of my role is visiting communities to see how these programs are run on the ground. I just love meeting seniors and learning how much these projects have positively impacted their lives,” Khera said.

The efforts to increase active engagement for seniors in the community are complementary to other factors like healthcare access and capital assistance, Khera said.

Expanding healthcare coverage and reducing wait times for medical procedures are examples of increasing access.

“Our health system is experiencing significant challenges and it’s important that we work with our partners to improve health care for Canadians not only to provide funding, but to ensure a national vision for health care that delivers for Canadians,” she said.

“After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve to live with financial security and dignity in their retirement years. This is being challenged by inflation.”

With the rising costs of living, the months to come will continue to be challenging for seniors, according to Khera.  

“It’s important to mention that to make sure [Old Age Security] but also [Canada Pension Plan] benefits keep up with the cost of living; they are indexed to inflation. Those benefits can never be reduced, even in the event of a decline in the Consumer Price Index,” Khera said.

Canada invested $144,804 to fund eight community-based projects to support seniors in the Kingston area in Ontario, Khera added.

This funding was awarded through the 2021 to 2022 NHSP call for proposals for community-based projects.

“When I speak with seniors, they tell me how important the help they receive is and how it makes a difference.”

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