TORONTO - The federal government appears poised to call for an election during a pandemic. No matter when that call comes, political party members and their teams stand at the ready.
The situation is no different for the Honourable Deb Schulte, Member of Parliament for King-Vaughan and Minister of Seniors. In anticipation of that call to election, the Corriere Canadese spoke with Minister Schulte to address some key issues for Canadians.
The government has introduced several measures to help Canadians navigate through the pandemic like the Canada Recovery Benefit including the wage and rent subsidies. What other policies has your government introduced to help support Canadians into the future?
"As a government, we are committed to supporting all Canadians in the fight against Covid-19 and throughout the economic recovery. We recognize these are challenging times for Canadians including the aging population. This is why the government is increasing the Old Age Security (OAS) benefits. To provide immediate support, next week, older seniors (75+) will receive a $500 one-time payment to help cover some of their added expenses".
Does this increase go far enough to help seniors with the cost of living and health expenses on the rise?
"As seniors age, they often face economic challenges due to rising health care costs, some develop disabilities and are unable to work. In recognition of these issues, eligible seniors (75+) should expect a permanent increase of 10% to their OAS starting July 2022, a promise we made in the last election. We are also working on improving services through programs like the New Horizons for Seniors and the Stay Well at Home.
These initiatives are designed to assist seniors live healthier, happier lives in their retirement years".
What about supports for young families, those that have been impacted by unpredictable expenses during the pandemic?
"The government has increased the Canada Child Benefit with eligible families receiving up to $6,833 per year for children under the age of six. For youth between the ages of 6-17, families could receive up to $5,765 per year. These funds are designed to help pay for things like food, clothing and activities".
Some families say this increase does not go far enough. What supports are available to help cover the costs of child care?
"Canada continues its work with the provinces and territories to make child care more affordable. The goal is to build a nation-wide early learning and child care system with a fee of $10 a day. This will allow family members the ability to return to the workforce and contribute to the economy. An affordable, high-quality child care system will also give all children the chance to succeed and flourish in life".
What is your message to Canadians moving forward in the economic recovery?
"It is important that our government continues to support Canadians and businesses throughout the pandemic and into the future. As we invest in the future and put the right programs in place to help all Canadians, we will build a stronger, more robust economy".
On a personal note, you have been transparent with the community regarding your health issues in the past. How are you doing now?
"After battling cancer in 2019 and going into remission, the cancer has returned. However, I have been through this before during the last election campaign. This time, I have a good treatment plan in place. I am positive that this will give me a better change for a longer remission. This challenge is not insurmountable. I have a strong team surrounding me and great support in the community. I look forward to overcoming this hurdle and continuing to serve my community and country. We have much more work to do!".