Federal Aid for Seniors a Good Start But Not Enough … or Just

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announced special one-time grant for seniors will help … for a while.

But certainly not enough if we are to believe Trudeau, the Premiers and Canada’s health officials’ own warnings that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be with us for many, many months.

Think about it.

Yes, it will be nice for seniors receiving Old Age Security, on top of their Canada Pension Plan payments to get an extra $300 cheque; $500 for lowest income seniors, who also qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

One payment, one time … to be sent out in the next several weeks.

The government estimates 6.7 million Canadians will qualify under the program … total cost $2.5 Billion.

“Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the Liberals arrived at the top-up figures by looking at extra dispensing fees with limits on prescriptions, additional travel costs for seniors avoiding public transit due to health concerns, and delivery fees for groceries,” reported the National Post.

“All small amounts, but it adds up,” she said.

Exactly.

It adds up … and so will the impact of the Covid-19 crisis … and the federal government knows that.

That’s why other federal programs, to help workers, students, small businesses, big businesses, huge businesses will all go on for several months … at some substantially greater costs.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (companies), $73 Billion; Canada Emergency Response Benefit (workers) $35 Billion; Canada Emergency Business Account, $15.3 Billion; Financial Aid for Students, $9 Billion; GST Extra Benefits, $5.5 Billion; Orphan Wells Cleanup Program $1.7 Billion … well, you get the point.

The $300 or even $500 each to help 6.7 million seniors … some of them struggling already … won’t go very far.

Especially in BC, where living costs van be much higher than most of the country, and the BC government has done NOTHING for retired seniors struggling with their cost of living …. literally … during the pandemic.

Premier John Horgan’s government has handed out $1,000 cheques to laid off workers; is paying $500 towards each month’s rent for those same workers … for four months; will pay a $200 Climate Action Tax Credit in July to moderate and low income families; but, again, NOTHING for seniors … not even a rebate on their ICBC premiums, despite most of us huddling in our homes now almost 24/7 !!

And adding insult to injury, should any hurting seniors decide to defer their municipal taxes, the BC government HIKED the penalty interest rate paid by seniors in April 2019 to 1.95%. (It was .70% when the NDP was elected in May, 2017; they raised it to 1.29% in April 2018; up again in Oct. 2018 to 1.45% and then again, to 1.95% in April, 2019.)

If Horgan and Trudeau respect, value and love seniors so much, NOW is the time to show it!

How about with a provincial Seniors Special Covid Income Tax Rebate; a Federal Seniors Special Income Tax Rebate; … or, a one-time Tax-Free RRSP or RRIF withdrawal of $5,000 or $10,000 ???

That would really help seniors get through the Covid pandemic … and not just the next month or so!

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow me @harveyoberfeld on Twitter to get First Alerts to all new postings on this BC-based blog.

Posted in British Columbia, National | 30 Comments

Speak UP to Restore Handicapped/Elderly Access to Vancouver Parks/Beaches!

What a beautiful Saturday morning walk I had: full sunshine, warm temperatures and the usual gorgeous scenery at Kits Point and Kits Beach.

I love it there … and I was fortunate enough, at 75 now (Yes!) and although needing a cane for stairs … to drive close enough and then still be able to walk further than I should have to just get there and enjoy the shoreline beach and park areas.

Fresh air, exercise, relaxation. Just what Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered. Wonderful!

There were hundreds of other people there too … walkers, joggers, bicyclists, families with kids picnicking on the grass and even tennis players on the courts as well. And almost all were doing pretty well at respecting the social distancing rules.

It was great!

But I was sad. Once again, I noticed who was NOT there: I saw NO ONE clearly disabled; NO ONE using a motorized transport device; NO ONE in a wheelchair; NO ONE using a walker; NO ONE even using a cane or a couple of canes.

How relatively fit … and mostly younger … they all were!

Enjoying park and beach areas cleansed of the handicapped and mobility-challenged seniors by the Vancouver Park Board and their allies at Vancouver City Hall.

The huge logs and steel gates blocking the Kits Beach parking areas were still there … signs warning of Strict Enforcement of all parking restrictions on nearby streets and, making it even more difficult, there were even No Stopping signs all along the former permissible street parking zone on Arbutus, north of Cornwall.

It was once more quite clear: the ones suffering most from this hate on for cars by the Vancouver Park Board and City Hall are those who can’t get to the beach/park without a vehicle and are not capable of parking/walking many, many blocks away!

Maybe I’m too sensitive: why should I care? After all, I can get there; I can enjoy the greenspace; I can admire the scenery.

That’s NOT good enough for me … and it shouldn’t be good enough for ANYONE!

The parking lots should be returned to public use … so EVERYONE can have access .. and self-distance !

So I wrote last week to every member of the Vancouver Park Board: three Green Party members; two COPE members; and, the two NPA members … protesting the discriminatory, exclusionary blockades of the public parking lots at Kits Beach, Locarno, Spanish Banks, Sunset Beach, First, Second and Third Beaches … and the barring of cars 24-hours a day, seven days a week from Stanley Park.

Excessive, discriminatory and outrageous!

Park Board Member Stuart Mackinnon (Green Party) wrote back.

“Thank you for your email. The public health office continues to advise us to stay in our own neighbourhoods. The decision by staff to close destination parking lots was done with that advice in mind. As the situation improves some of these advisories will relax. Until then our staff will continue to act in the best interests of our residents.”

Stay in our own neighborhoods?

Does Mackinnon … or any of the other park board members … really think/believe/buy that all those thousands at the waterfront parks and beaches and deep in Stanley Park are from the “neighbourhood” ???

LOL!

Have they not noticed the HUNDREDS of cars parked along the road beside the barricaded parking lots at Spanish Banks!

Locals? From the neighborhood? Give me a break!!

Where there’s a will … there is a way. And clearly many, many Vancouver residents are determined enough and smart enough … and fit enough … to beat the Park Board’s hatred for cars and those who use them.

Even me!

While doing a pretty good job, I’d say, to self-distance and stay safe.

The ones really hurting are those who NEED cars to get around and to their destinations … I’m sure they would love to hike, jog and bicycle there too if they could … and they too should be allowed and welcomed to enjoy the city’s shoreline beaches and parks and Stanley Park as well, at least at certain times each day or on alternate days.

In fact, provincial and regional parks and their PARKING LOTS are all about to be open for day use again … with the approval of the provincial health officer. It’s time for the Park Board to open up too … for everyone!

If you care enough to speak up for equality and fairness, let the Park Board members know:

Chair Stuart Mackinnon: (Stuart.Mackinnon@vancouver.ca) ; Tricia.Barker@Vancouver.ca; John.Coupar@Vancouver.ca: Dave.Demers@Vancouver.ca; Gwen.Giesbrecht@Vancouver.ca; and, John.Irwin@Vancouver.ca.

You can also write the Mayor: Kennedy.Stewart@Vancouver.ca

Be polite, respectful … but let them know if you feel the city’s beach and waterfront parking lots and Stanley Park roadway should be open to all … and not just the elite for access.

Speaking up for others makes you feel pretty good. I always do!

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow me @harveyoberfeld.ca on Twitter for First Alerts of all new postings on this BC based blog. No spam, just alerts to new topics up for discussion.)

Posted in British Columbia | 13 Comments