On November 26, National Association of Federal Retirees President Jean-Guy Soulière and Director of Advocacy Sayward Montague had a productive and informative meeting with new Minister of Seniors, Filomena Tassi (MP Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas). Named in July’s cabinet shuffle, the Minister has been travelling extensively and meeting with many groups in getting to know this important file. Federal Retirees have led the way advocating for dedicated voice for seniors at the cabinet table and are pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Minister and her team to ensure that public policy decisions are viewed through a seniors’ lens.
“Seniors, the largest growing demographic in the country, absolutely should have a dedicated voice advocating for their unique needs within cabinet,” said Jean-Guy Soulière. “Minister Tassi’s appointment was a victory for seniors, but now comes the hard work of delivering on her mandate letter.”
The Minister shared that she had consulted with many seniors and seniors-focused organizations in her first months in the role, and has heard concerns about income security, affordable housing, the impact of fraud and scams on older adults, health care concerns and the realities of social isolation. While some of the specific challenges shared with the Minister are provincially focused, Federal Retirees believes that this highlights the need for a National Seniors Strategy.
“Federal Retirees has long advocated for a National Seniors Strategy that focuses on homecare, housing and age-friendly community life,” said Sayward Montague. “Such a strategy would provide a blueprint for an integrated continuum of care to meet the needs of a growing seniors population, supporting a strong economy across the country and across generations.”
At the meeting, Federal Retirees and the Minister, along with senior members of her team, discussed retirement income security, including Bill C-27, Finance Minister Morneau’s controversial pension legislation. As a cornerstone campaign for the Association, Federal Retirees members and supporters have sent over 45,000 emails to Members of Parliament expressing their concern with the bill.
On retirement income security, the conversation was focused on the recently announced consultation, Enhancing Retirement Security for Canadians. Thanks to calls by Federal Retirees, in the last budget the federal government committed to this consultation on retirement income security – though it falls short of what is needed, according to Soulière.
“While we are glad the consultation is finally underway, we have many concerns with the process and the direction the government has taken,” said Soulière. “These concerns were expressed to the Minister and her team, and they will be outlined clearly in our forthcoming submission.”
In response to these concerns, the Minister stated that the Enhancing Retirement Security for Canadians consultation was only one part of an on-going process. Federal Retirees are looking forward to seeing the next steps in the government’s retirement income security consultation plan, and to continuing to work with the Minister.
“We are pleased to be able to have open and frank discussions with Minister Tassi and her team about these consultations and other issues relating to her portfolio,” said Soulière. “We are looking forward to continuing this relationship and to working together to ensure that the concerns of seniors are given the priority they deserve.”
Federal Retirees' President Jean-Guy Soulière (left) and the Honourable Filomena Tassi (right).