Local candidates take on seniors’ issues ahead of election

Senior well-being could prove an important issue in the new riding.

As the longest campaign period in recent memory rolls along, local candidates have been taking advantage of time by rolling out their plans for a key issue in Lake Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley — senior well-being — as they vie to become the first MP for the new Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding.

New Democrat nominee Alistair MacGregor took the opportunity last week to announce the party’s plan for seniors to his constituents. The most notable part of the plan was his promise to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement — which provides a monthly non-taxable benefits to Old Age Security recipients living on a low income — by $400 million, an initiative that was part of former NDP leader Jack Layton’s campaign leading up to the 2011 federal election.

MacGregor also took the opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s management of the Old Age Security system, claiming that he “has failed seniors” and that an NDP government would “reverse the damage done by his Conservative government.” He said that if elected, his party would cancel the federal government’s plan to increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 between 2023 and 2029.

“I’ve talked to too many people in our communities who face uncertainty in their retirement,” MacGregor said. “Sadly many seniors are worried about not even having enough to get by… and the NDP is the only party with a national seniors’ strategy.”

Liberal Party candidate Maria Manna announced in Mill Bay last Friday (August 28) her party’s plan for improving the quality of life for local seniors. The party’s plan ties in with their infrastructure investment plan, which she said will include a more thorough plan and substantial investment in affordable housing, senior care facilities, recreational facilities and public transit, as well as new child care spaces.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has previously stated that the infrastructure plan would be supported by an increase of federal infrastructure investment from $65 billion to $125 billion — nearly double, over the next decade.

“Investment in public infrastructure not only grows the economy and creates jobs, but makes our communities stronger,” Manna said. “It is crucial to the long-term development of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford and all communities across the country.”

The Conservative Party has been left playing catch-up in Cowichan, as former candidate John Koury announced  he would be dropping out of the race due to family issues.

Saturday (August 29) saw Martin Barker, a chiropractor from Duncan, selected as the party’s new candidate for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

Though Barker has yet to present the party’s policies for senior well-being, he is expected to provide more information on the key issue as the campaign for the new riding continues.