Tuesday April 3, 2012

Seniors Scene

Saving the Senate 

Ten points that make a big difference with seniors

Submitted by Myrtle MacDonald, Chwk


hanging the retirement age to 67 and giving several years lead time is good. After all people on the average are living longer now than when 65 was first arbitrarily chosen. Delayed retirement should be based on health, energy, desire to work and ability to work effectively. Many elderly people do unpaid volunteering 40 hours a week or more. They should receive an honorarium enough to pay for travel, accommodation and expenses.


2. As it is now everyone gets OAS but pays it back in income tax. Why give it and take it back? Why no stop giving it in the first place to those with an income of over $25,000. There would be fewer forms to fill out, and less worry.

3. People over 65 who pay a mortgage should pay that much less in income tax. That is where I suffer. My mortgage is $568 per month and I am 90 years old. I still work 60 hours a week as a volunteer in a variety of situations, locally. My daughter is 66 and because of spinal problems can no longer travel by plane to visit me.

I cannot afford to buy a plane ticket to visit children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in distant provinces. A granddaughter, out of her frugal income, has surprised me with a ticket to Saskatoon and promise of drives to Regina.

4. The amount of rent or strata fees should be taken into account in income tax.

5. There are nursing homes, Personal Care Homes and Assisted Living. There are subsidies. My sister is in Assisted Living and receives the GAIN subsidy. The problem is that the elderly person is allowed to keep only $300 for personal expenses. Then the home deducts much of it for extras such as hydro, cable, telephone, etc. and that has gone up in the past year. The person pays for foot care, hairdresser, Tai chi, carpet cleaning, mandatory insurance on personal belongings, breakfast food supplies, trips by bus for pleasure, shopping or appointments and meals for guests. We can't afford to have a meal with our sister.

Her urine incontinence supplies cost $120 per month and she has to pay for calcium, vitamins and over the counter meds, toiletries, etc. That all comes to over $400 and there is nothing left for clothes, shoes, hearing aids, dentist or eye glasses. The little grocery and toiletries store in Assisted Living is expensive.

There was only one bath a week until my sister had shingles and that might be the hygienic reason why she got that affliction. She still gets two a week and we are holding out breath that that will continue.

6. Someone calculated that it would be cheaper to live in a first class hotel at a monthly rate. Included would be laundry, meals, telephone and cable, bedding and carpet cleaning. There would also be a swimming pool and exercise room.

7. Home Care should be better subsidized. It is quite good when two people live in the same apartment, as mother and my sister did. In one hour a care giver could oversee a bath for both. That meant they could have two baths a week. When one person lives alone only one bath a week is provided.

8. There is no provision for dusting, carpet cleaning or frig cleaning. The government is generous about providing for shopping for groceries, helping prepare a meal, etc. but these are unnecessary and more expensive, because there is no price checking for sales.

9. How can government afford the cost of better care of the elderly? By cutting down on beauracracy. There are too many levels in the hierarchy and the spread in salary with each promotion is excessive. No one, not even a CEO or an expert of any kind, should receive more than $250,000 per year. Why? Their expertise gets outdated as they loose touch with the grass roots. Every supervisor and vice-president should be a service provider at least part time. Most should be transferred into full time direct care. Severance pay is so excessive that there are many kept on staff who should be fired.

10. Senate reform is often considered. My view is that Senators are needed. They have valuable experience and expertise. They provide sobre second thought. They participate in many excellent committees. However they should receive no salary, the same way as volunteers. They should only receive an honorarium for expenses, travel and accommodation when in Ottawa or on legitimate business.

Points 9 and 10 would pay generously for points 1 to 8.



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