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Federal Budget 2021

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Does this year’s federal budget add up to a better life for older Canadians?

Our analysis of how well Canada’s new financial plan meets (or doesn’t meet) the needs of our aging population and their caregivers.

Critical information in a new federal budget is often drowned out by a lot “bells and whistles”. As old investments are presented as “new dollars” and previous campaign promises are repackaged with a new coat of paint, it’s difficult to cut through the noise to figure out exactly how the announcements are going to affect the lives of real people across the country.

Luckily, we’re doing the work for you.

On April 19th, we’ll be summarizing the key information that affects our members and their families right here on this page as it becomes available.

For easy reference, we’re outlining our priority list of things we want to see in the 2021 federal budget below. Make sure you check back in real time for everything you need to know!

We’ll also be live tweeting noteworthy announcements as they happen, so keep an eye on our Twitter Feed as the budget drops.

In the meantime, you can read our pre-budget submission to the federal government, which plans out a solid course of action to protect the rights and well-being of Canadians. All of the recommendations we made come from our comprehensive policy platform, VOICES: A Roadmap to an Age-Inclusive Canada, and from real conversations with people like you from coast-to-coast.

“This has been an extremely difficult year for older Canadians everywhere. Last year’s Speech from the Throne made some substantial promises to better support seniors, including promises for significant investments in long-term care, caregiving and financial assistance. We’ll be watching for follow through on these and other critical investments needed to protect the rights and health of older people as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect seniors.”

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge

What would a “senior-friendly” budget look like?

Unfortunately, for an advocate, it’s basically unheard of to get everything you want in a budget.


When deciding how well a budget serves the needs of older Canadians, it helps to do a couple of layers of analysis:

  1. Major Priorities. This is the simplified short list of “top line” items we’re pushing for in our pre-budget recommendations. If we get these, we’re very happy.
  2. Other (also important) Items. These recommendations are just as important, but there are a lot more of them. We want all of these things on behalf of our members, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll all be in the budget. 

    Because you’re limited on how much you can ask for in your pre-budget submission, some of these things can’t make it onto the short list. If we get any of these things on top of the major priorities, we’re even happier.

Major Priorities

VViolence and Abuse Prevention

  • Appointment of a Federal Seniors’ Advocate
  • Real action taken on elder abuse prevention
  • Additional supports on elder abuse through the New Horizons Program

O Optimal Health and Wellness

  • Targeted investments in health care that will improve access to primary care, mental health supports, and virtual care
  • Capacity building for staffing in seniors’ health care (e.g. action taken around immigration, funding, grants, and education to support staffing levels)
  • Funding for the National Dementia Strategy

IInfection Control and Disaster Prevention

  • Any reform on vaccines for older people, including coverage for the specifically-formulated flu shot in long-term care
  • Reform of the vaccine schedule
  • Improvements to vaccine ordering or funding coverage
  • Create a pan-Canadian disaster plan for seniors

CCaregiving, Long Term Care and Housing Resources – TOP PRIORITY

  • Real movement on the creation of National Standards of Long-term Care. We’ll be looking for a clear commitment of dollars here. If we see this in the budget, it would be the first time it’s ever happened, and would be an unprecedented win for seniors in Canada
  • Any other action taken to improve long-term care and prevent further avoidable loss of life during the pandemic
  • Changes to immigration and education to support staffing levels in long-term care
  • Financial support for family caregivers, including refundable tax credits

EEconomic Security

  • Protected pensions for workers. This includes amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to ensure priority for pensioners when companies go under

S – Social Inclusion 

  • Rural and remote internet connectivity
  • Any real support for intergenerational work (connecting younger and older people for mutually beneficial social interactions)
  • Investment in better public transit
  • New announcements within the New Horizons Program that will keep older people socially connected through programming and supports

Other Items

If you want to do a deeper dive, you can find everything we asked for in our budget scoreboard below.

Federal Budget Scoreboard

What we asked for and what we got in an easy-to-understand format.

Win = Everything we asked for on this recommendation is in the budget. A big win for seniors!

Partial Win = Some of what we asked for on this recommendation is in the budget, but not everything.

Loss = None of what we asked for on this recommendation was in the budget. A big miss for seniors!

This table will be updated after the budget has been announced.

CanAge's RecommendationPriority WinPartial WinLoss
Violence and Abuse Prevention
Establish the Federal Office of the Seniors' Advocate. The Seniors’ Advocate should provide systemic oversight and leadership on issues related to the current needs of Canadian seniors, as well as provide insight, analysis, and direction to the government on the future needs of our aging population.Major PriorityX
Information Hotline. Create or support a national 1-800 toll-free line hotline for people to phone for local referrals on elder abuse and neglect. Track and report elder abuse and neglect enquiries and use that data to support evidence-based policy, planning and funding.Major PriorityX
Funding. Provide funding for elder abuse and neglect response in par with domestic violence fundingMajor PriorityX
Awareness. Support and implement a National Elder Abuse and Neglect Awareness Strategy, which includes a multi-lingual and pan Canadian awareness campaignMajor PriorityX
Data Reporting. Require federal, federally-funded or federally-regulated agencies to collect desegregated data on elder abuse and neglectMajor PriorityX
PIPEDA. Amend PIPEDA to better allow financial institutions to report abuse. Amend s. 7(3) (d.3) to, 1) define "financial elder abuse" and "mental capacity", b) update the list to whom disclosure can be made, and c) link to provincial/territorial responsesMajor PriorityX
Research. Invest in research to better understand and respond to elder abuse and neglect, including funcing the NICE networkMajor PriorityX
Mandatory Seniors Banking Code. Change the Seniors Voluntary Banking Code to binding regulation under the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Amend the Cod to include the requirement to request a Trusted Contact Person from clients.Major PriorityX
Optimal Health and Wellness
Targeted Investments in Health Care. Make targeted investments in health care that will improve access to primary care, mental health supports, and virtual care in provincial health care systems to older CanadiansMajor PriorityX
Health Equity and Resiliency. Implement strategies that increase the resiliency and address inequalities of the healthcare system to safeguard Canada's social and economic security for our aging populationMajor PriorityX
Reduce Dementia Stigma. Work with, and provide, support to national and community organizations and dementia networks to break down the stigma of dementia and cognitive impairmentX
Implement the National Dementia Strategy. Implement the National Dementia Strategy and ensure adequate investment to operationalize the strategyMajor PriorityX
Technology Supports for Dementia. Prioritize investment in technology and digital supports for dementia, cognitive impairment and caregiver support.X
Fund Palliative Care. Work with provinces to adequately fund palliative care.X
Increase Home and Palliative Care. Make home care and palliative care more available across the country.X
End of Life Care and Dementia Supports. Support funding and integration of hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care into dementia care.X
Accelerate Health Technology. Work in collaboration with the provinces and territories to assist those jurisdictions in accelerating the development of technology and ensure the availability of health human resources with appropriate training in culturally competent virtual care, with particular focus on meeting the needs of an aging population.Major PriorityX
Fund AGE-WELL. Support sector innovation by investing in AGE-WELL, Canada's national aging and technology network past 2023.X
R&D Aging Sector. Extend and enhance R&D incentive programs such as the Innovation Assistance Program by including transitioning Networks of Centres of Excellence in such programs, as well as universities, hospitals, laboratories and other research facilities. Invest in R&D in the aging and age-tech sector.X
Global Leader in Aging and Innovation. Lead a national innovation agenda with significant new investments in research and knowledge mobilization on seniors’ care, innovation and technology, with an emphasis on helping domestic companies grow and compete globally. Make Canada a leader in innovation in aging solutions and seniors’ care globally.X
Mental Health. Create specific funding to support seniors' mental health impacts due to social isolation and COVID19Major PriorityX
Infection Control and Disaster Response
National Vaccination Strategy. Invest in an integrated National Vaccination Strategy to provide for the current, and future needs of Canadians.Major PriorityX
Centralize Vaccine Ordering. Centralize vaccine ordering under the federal public health mandate, as was done this past year (2020) for specifically formulated influenza vaccine for residents of long-term. Centralized ordering decreases health inequity, allows ordering according to recommended population coverage (eg 80% population goal), increases government purchasing power, and improves supply chain.Major PriorityX
Fully Fund Influenza, Pneumonia and Shingles Vaccines. Fully-fund all adults in Canada for the three modern best-in-class vaccines most beneficial to their well-being: specifically-formulated seniors' enhanced flu vaccines, pneumonia, and shingles.Major PriorityX
Include Vaccines in Pharmacare. Include vaccines in any National Pharmacare Program.Major PriorityX
Reform NACI. Invest in and provide the current volunteer National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) with an enhanced mandate. Alternatively, investigate creating a replacement permanent arms-length national body to oversee recommendations for, and approval of, vaccines.Major PriorityX
Designate People 60+ Immunocompromised during COVID19. Designate people 60+ immunocompromised due to high-risk for COVID-19. This federal designation then allows for seniors to qualify for enhanced coverage of vaccines in their region.Major PriorityX
National Adult Vaccination Schedule. Create and fund a National Vaccination schedule, similar to existing vaccine schedules for childrenMajor PriorityX
National Vaccination Registry. Create and invest in an integrated, accessible and modern National Vaccination RegistryMajor PriorityX
Vaccine Standards in National LTC Standards. Integrate vaccine standards into future National Standards for LTC.Major PriorityX
Vaccine Research and Innovation. Invest in technology and innovation in vaccine research, development, tracking and uptake.Major PriorityX
National Adult Vaccination Awareness Campaign. Create a National Adult Vaccination Awareness Campaign.Major PriorityX
Community Awareness of Vaccines. Provide funding supports for community-based and non-profit organizations to raise awareness of, and increase accessibility to, vaccine uptake.Major PriorityX
Caregiving, Long-term Care and Housing Resources
Establish a National Standards for Long-Term Care Working Group, including representatives from seniors and caregiver organizations, to make recommendations for the positive transformation of long-term care in Canada.Previously Announced
Set National Standards for Long-term Care facilities and make investments in both long-term care and in-home care, including home, community, and institutional settings, that will allow provinces to achieve a standard of care that will provide dignity for seniors requiring such care in Canada, with proper accountability measures.Major PriorityX
Work with quality standards organizations, such as Canadian Standards Association and Health Standards Ontario to develop National Standards for Long-Term Care in Canada.Previously Announced
Designate specific federal fund transfers to the provinces and territories for long-term care, tethered to the new National Standards for Long-Term Care and associated guidelines.Major PriorityX
Provide a government backstop for infectious spread liability insurance for LTC. Infectious spread liability insurance has been halted by insurers leaving homes vulnerable, and non-profit homes without coverage for Directors & Officers liability. The impacts of not having this coverage affects debt, lending, and the speed of vaccinations in homes, amongst other negative downflow effects.Major PriorityX
Establish home care and long-term care worker immigration priority status. Reinstate the Live-In Caregiver Immigration Program and prioritize recruitment expertise in geriatrics and dementia. Change National Occupational Classification codes as needed to ensure appropriate immigration accessibility for seniors’ care sector workers.Major PriorityX
Work with stakeholders to define, develop and implement standards for an Essential Caregiver Program for Seniors as part of National Standards for Long-Term Care.X
Amend the federal Canada Caregiver Tax Credit to become a refundable tax credit from its current earned tax credit requirement.Major PriorityX
Invest in providing increased quantity and quality of Home Care. Establish Home Care (Care at Home) as the primary Canadian model of seniors’ care.X
Amend the Home Accessibility Tax Credit from a $10,000 per dwelling to $10,000 per person.X
Develop land grant programs to help create housing, including Long-Term Care. Create grant and loan guarantees for aging-in-place housing models.Major PriorityX
Invest in accessible transitional and shelter options for seniors who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, as part of Canada’s Housing Strategy.X
Deliver necessary funding to develop shovel-ready affordable seniors’ housing or long-term care projects which will also stimulate the economy and create jobs.Major PriorityX
Economic Security
Extend Old Age Security payments to the surviving spouse of a deceased individual to three months.X
End mandatory RRIF withdrawals.X
Defer RRSP capital gains taxes for up to three years to allow those in need to access their own funds without taxation penalties during COVID-19.X
Create a $500 per person / $800 per couple refundable tax credits to offset increased costs for deliveries, transportation, and support services for seniors for up to three years during COVID-19.X
Protect the pension funds of workers as privileged creditors by amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.Major PriorityX
Create a Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund to ensure pensioners receive 100% of their deferred wages or, require pension funds to be fully funded to 100%, or, establish a recurring refundable tax credit equal to the annual pension loss per pensioner.Major PriorityX
Operationalize modern tax and pension policies, increasing options for flexible retirement.Major PriorityX
Make the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OBSI) the single dispute resolution provider for all banking and investments in Canada.X
Provide OBSI with binding authority and a robust systemic mandate. Increase OBSI’s remit from $350,000 to $500,000.X
Social Inclusion
Amend the New Horizons for Seniors Program to allow for 1-3 year grants ($25,000 per year), prioritizing social inclusion and work with philanthropic and funding organizations to strategically invest in communities engaged in combating social isolation.Major PriorityX
Study creating a Canada Post “well-being checks” program for isolated seniors, similar to the UK’s and France’s postal programs.X
Create a pan-Canadian Anti-Ageism Campaign.X
Create and support innovative intergenerational programs.Major PriorityX
Continue prioritization and investment in rural digital connectivity. Ensure every person in Canada has access to reliable, high-speed internet by 2025, including those living in rural, remote, northern, and Indigenous communities.Major PriorityX
Invest in accessible inclusive public transportation infrastructure appropriate for an aging population.Major PriorityX
Invest in creating Quality Training Standards for programs working with older adults, such as those created by High Five (™) and Parks and Recreation Ontario.X
Support and help implement the United Way’s Health Aging Collaborative Online Resources and Education (CORE) program across Canada.Previously AnnouncedX
TOTALS7 Wins3 Partial Wins53 Losses

Media Commentary

  • CPAC – Laura Tamblyn Watts, the CEO of the national seniors’ advocacy organization CanAge, speaks with CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen
  • Radio NL

Related News

We’ll post related updates here after the budget is announced. Stay tuned!

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