Pension and benefits developments from the 2019 federal election
The Liberal Party of Canada has won a plurality of seats in the House of Commons in the recent 2019 federal election and is expected to form a minority government. The party’s 2019 election platform contained a number of promises that, if enacted, would affect pensions and benefits in Canada.
Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan
The platform promised to increase the Old Age Security Benefit by 10% for seniors when they turn 75, and to continue to increase the benefit with inflation. According to the platform, this change will add $729 to the annual retirement income of most seniors who are 75 or over.
The platform also promised to work towards increasing the survivor benefits available under Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan by 25%, which would provide up to an additional $2,080 per year for qualifying seniors. The consent of the provinces is required for changes to the Canada Pension Plan.
In June 2019, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare produced a report recommending the adoption of a universal public, single-payer pharmacare system (as discussed in the April 2019 and July 2019 News & Views). The Liberals’ election victory means the government will likely continue to push for a national universal pharmacare program, particularly as the New Democratic Party, which now holds a balance of power, has also indicated it regards pharmacare as a priority issue. However, significant involvement from provincial and territorial governments would be required to implement national pharmacare.
The Liberals have promised to introduce “distinctions-based” health legislation for indigenous Canadians to ensure indigenous control over the development and delivery of healthcare services.
The 2019 platform promises up to $3,000 in free counselling services for veterans through Veterans Affairs Canada or one of its service partners before they are required to make a disability claim. The Liberals also promised to create a new rapid-response service for veterans staffed by social workers, case management counsellors and peer support workers, and to provide automatic approval for the most common disability applications such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and arthritis.
The platform proposed to set clear national standards for access to mental health services. It plans to include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety rules for federally regulated employees, while requiring federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury.