Seniors learn governmental ins and outs

There’s lots to know about provincial and federal government programs and services.

Service Canada representative Tzena Russell shares the ins and outs of federal government goings on with a group of seniors

Service Canada representative Tzena Russell shares the ins and outs of federal government goings on with a group of seniors

There’s lots to know about  provincial and federal government programs and services.

With a large senior population in the Cowichan Lake area, the Honeymoon Bay Community Society held a seniors information day, Thursday, April 14, to help keep local citizens informed of their rights to governmental services.

“Be informed about what you’re entitled to,” Service Canada representative Tzena Russell told the crowd, of filing taxes.

When others file your taxes, she said, “They’re not going to lose sleep at night if there’s a mistake in there.”

Her main piece of advice was to read everything word-for-word.

She also encourages everyone, whether or not they have an income, to file taxes.

“It makes sure we give you the benefits you’re entitled to,” she said.

To avoid identification theft, she encouraged people to not carry their Social Insurance Number or birth certificate with them unless absolutely necessary.

Sharing her insight into Veteran’s Affairs, representative Siegrid Hauth said that Vancouver Island’s only office, in Victoria, is one of the busiest in Canada.

Although they’re busy, she encourages people to keep informed as to what they’re entitled to. Disability pension, and various other things are available to veterans, both new and old.

Retired Service BC employee Byron Johnston cautioned those attending the information session that not everyone has to pay into the Medical Service Plan.

“If you have been paying, they will pay you back to six years,” he said.

It all depends on household income, with a sliding rate for Medical Service Plan costs, up to a certain point.

One just has to fill out a Premium Assistance Form.

Seniors’ losing their drivers’ licenses is a major concern among many, he said.

Once people reach the age of 80, they must have a doctor fill out a medical form, at a cost to the driver. This will continue to happen every two years.

The medical form will mean one of three things: Nothing, a road test, or a “no” to the person being allowed to drive.

As for road tests, Johnston encourages people to take at least one refresher drivers lesson, as people are only allowed three cracks at it.

“If you don’t do it you’re going to risk a lot,” he said. “They’re more difficult than they used to be.”

After thanking the three presenters, Honeymoon Bay Community Society president Dick Orman said, “I think everyone got something out of it.”

Orman hopes to see the well-attended event will become an annual one.

“I’m sure there are other people that would be interested,” he said.