Senior Power

Fall 2003 CSANews Issue 49  |  Posted date : May 02, 2007.Back to list

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. Seniors have worked hard for Canada, fought our wars, and contributed immensely to the country we all now enjoy. Most seniors also live on fixed incomes and the precipitous drop in interest rates, a weak Canadian dollar, and a collapse in the stock markets have led to serious financial pressures and stress on our senior population.

To date, our governments have, too often, ignored the plight of seniors and the many problems they face. But this attitude now appears to be changing. Several provincial governments have set up Ministries, specifically, to represent the needs and interests of seniors. Ontario has been a leader in this changed attitude and the Ontario Government has introduced two more ground-breaking initiatives to help seniors.

The Eves government recently introduced Bill 43 to give Ontario's seniors some much needed tax relief. This new legislation - the Ontario Home Property Tax Relief for Seniors Act - was passed in the Legislature of Ontario on June 25, 2003. It provides senior homeowners and senior tenants with a tax credit that reimburses them for the residential education property taxes they paid on their principal residence for the last half of the 2003 taxation year, and on a full-year basis starting in 2004.

The new seniors' tax credit will directly benefit Ontario's 700,000 senior homeowners and the 245,000 senior tenants who will collectively receive $450 million in net new benefits every year. This represents an average net saving of $475 a year per senior household.

Persons are eligible for the new tax credit if:

They are at least 65 years of age on December 31 of the tax year (to maintain consistency with existing provincial tax credit and federal programs for seniors);

Their primary place of residence is located in Ontario during the tax year; and

They are liable to pay property taxes or rent on their principal residence.

Seniors are required to complete an application form to apply for their tax credit. And applications will be sent out to eligible seniors this September. The first payments will be issued to seniors in December. To request specific information on the tax credit, seniors can call the Ontario Ministry of Finance's toll-free number at 1-877-533-2188.

Combining the personal income tax age credit, the additional support for seniors in the Ontario Property and Sales Tax Credits and the benefits from Ontario's personal income tax cuts, will result in a total of $2.5 billion in tax savings, per year, for Ontario seniors.

The initiative does not replace the existing Ontario Tax Credits program, which includes a combined property tax and sales tax credit for low-income seniors. These people will continue to be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $1,000 a year in credits under the existing program, but only on the portion not already reimbursed through the new Ontario Home Property Tax Relief for Seniors program.

On May 29, 2003, the Eves government also introduced Bill 68, the Mandatory Retirement Elimination Act, 2003. Bill 68 would amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to eliminate mandatory retirement and to protect workers aged 65 and over from discrimination in employment on the basis of age.

This legislation has already passed First Reading in the Legislature of Ontario. If and when it passes Second and Third Reading, Bill 68 will allow more seniors to remain active in the workforce, retiring at a time of their own choosing, rather than automatically at the age of 65. The legislation would not affect those who decide to retire at the age of 65. These people will still receive their full pensions.

Bill 68 would also amend the Audit Act, the Election Act, the Health Protection and Promotion Act, the Ombudsman Act and the Public Service Act so that they no longer set out a mandatory age of retirement.

These two Acts will benefit, literally, hundreds of thousands of seniors and will also provide more flexibility in retirement planning. We hope that they will set a precedent for other provinces and our Federal Government to follow. Senior Power - The Up and Coming Special Interest Group!