Bill C-40 (Historical)
Celebrating Canada's Seniors Act
An Act to establish National Seniors Day
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Diane Finley Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
March 13th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
Anne-Marie Robinson President, Public Service Commission of Canada
Thank you Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I am pleased to be here today as part of this panel to talk about the initiatives of the Public Service Commission of Canada in enhancing opportunities in the federal public service for current and former members of the Canadian Forces.
I am accompanied by Hélène Laurendeau, Senior Vice-President of the Policy Branch at the Public Service Commission.
The commission is an independent agency reporting to Parliament. It is mandated to safeguard the integrity of the public service staffing system and non-partisanship of the public service. For over 100 years, the commission has upheld its mandate to ensure a merit-based, non-partisan federal public service.
The commission has also made an important contribution to the reintegration of Canada's veterans into civilian society by helping them find jobs in the public service.
Under the Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Employment Regulations, the PSC is responsible for creating and administering priority entitlements.
These entitlements provide persons with the right to be appointed ahead of all others to any position in the public service for which they meet the essential qualifications. Priority entitlements help persons who have been affected by career transitions. The priority entitlement system also serves the important objective of helping the public service to retain skilled and competent people who the Government of Canada has trained and developed.
Since 1997, there has been a priority entitlement for Canadian Forces members who were released as a result of injury in a special duty area. In 2005, as part of the New Veterans Charter, that priority entitlement was expanded to include former members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP who were released from service for medical reasons. Once medically released, these former members have five years to activate their priority entitlement, which then lasts for two years.
A more recent amendment came into effect in May 2010 extending priority entitlement to surviving spouses or common-law partners of public service employees and members of the Canadian Forces or the RCMP who lost their lives in the line of duty. Qualified surviving spouses are granted a priority entitlement, for up to two years, for appointments to externally advertised positions in the public service. This priority applies retroactively to October 7, 2001, when Canada began its military actions in Afghanistan.
While my remarks will focus largely on those priority entitlements, I would also like to mention the initiative taken in 2005 to amend the Public Service Employment Act and allow Canadian Forces members access to internal public service jobs.
Prior to this amendment, Canadian Forces members were not eligible to participate in advertised internal appointment processes. The amendment provides the option to departments and agencies governed by the Public Service Employment Act to identify Canadian Forces members as eligible on internal job notices. Also, Bill C-40, which came into force in 2008, protects the jobs of public service employees who serve in the reserve force and take a leave of absence for military service in Canada and abroad.
We have worked and will continue to work with people who manage programs that support veterans at the Department of National Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to ensure that all those affected by these amendments are aware of their entitlements.
Our annual report to Parliament provides information on priority entitlements and appointments. As the two-year priority entitlement for medically released Canadian Forces and RCMP members can be extended over a number of fiscal years, and to give you a better example of how the program works, it's probably more useful to look at the placement results over a longer period of time.
We have looked at three cohorts, or groups, of medically released members. We took a look at appointments for those who registered for the entitlement in 2007-08, as well as the two subsequent years, up to 2009-10, when the two-year entitlements had all expired.
For the first cohort, there were 177 appointments of medically released members, followed by 196 appointments for the second, and 201 for the third. For all three cohorts we saw an appointment rate that was, on average, 72%. This is the highest rate of appointments by category in the priority administration system. For those who were appointed, we found that more than 60% were appointed within six months from the start of their priority entitlement, rising to 80% or more within 12 months, and more than 92% within 18 months.
We also found that more than 95% of these former Canadian Forces members obtained their jobs in the region of their residence.
The departments most likely to have positions available as part of their regional operations include the Department of National Defence, Correctional Service Canada, and Human Resources and Skills Development, including Service Canada.
Of those who were not appointed, for instance, among the first cohort of 2007-2008, nearly half accepted other job offers in other sectors.
While I am pleased with the results, I think there are areas for improvement. We took a closer look at the priority administration program, and our evaluation identified areas where we could be proactive and strengthen the program for the long-term benefits of former medically released members.
We found that we need to improve coordination and share information about the public service at the earliest possible time, because medically released members are sometimes not familiar with the public service staffing system.
We believe a case management approach can be more effective in working directly with former Canadian Forces members to advise them of their entitlements, helping them better understand the language of staffing, and assisting them more when they apply for jobs.
We're in the process of consulting with our partners about these ideas, and I certainly welcome your views.
In addition, I will be carefully watching the impacts of the changes to the priority system as a result of the government's deficit reduction action plan. Based on this analysis, we will be exploring whether some administrative measures could be tailored to allow medically released members to maximize the value of their entitlements.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, let me assure you and your committee of our strong commitment at the Public Service Commission to continually strive to enhance the work we do to support medically released Canadian Forces and RCMP members. While their military and policing careers have been cut short, we will continue to do all we can to help bring their valuable experience and competencies to the federal public service.
Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
November 23rd, 2010 / 8:30 p.m.
Diane Ablonczy Minister of State (Seniors)
Madam Chair, I am pleased to have this opportunity to share with the House actions taken by the government to help ensure that older Canadians have the supports they need to enjoy a good quality of life and a secure sense of well-being.
Our government recognizes the important contributions seniors have made and continue to make to both the economic and social fabrics of our nation. Seniors are living longer and healthier lives than ever before.
Recently, David Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, issued his report, “Growing Older—Adding Life to Years”. The report highlights the state of Canadian seniors' physical and mental health, as well as their economic and social well-being.
The good news is that Dr. Butler-Jones came away from the study with an overall positive outlook on Canada's aging population. He noted that people, by and large, are actually aging well. He says aging is a vibrant time and while sometimes there are infirmities along the way, people live life well, are engaged in their communities and contribute to society. It has never been better, says Dr. Butler-Jones.
This very encouraging observation is met with the reality, he says, that as Canada faces a larger older population, efforts made toward healthy aging need to be managed in more effective and meaningful ways. This is precisely what the federal government, in collaboration with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, intends to do.
The federal government also intends to ensure that older Canadians have necessary financial supports. We understand that financial security largely contributes to a secure sense of well-being. That is why, since 2006, this government has implemented several key measures to reduce the tax burden on seniors.
To date, our government has provided more than $2 billion in annual tax relief for seniors. That is more than $2 billion each and every year. Some of these measures include implementing pension income splitting; increasing the age credit twice, first in 2006 and then again in 2009, benefiting more than two million seniors; doubling the maximum amount of pension income that may be claimed under the pension income tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, which removed 85,000 seniors from the tax rolls completely; increasing the allowable earnings exemption from $500 to $3,500; allowing registered retirement income fund annuitants to reduce the minimum amount required to be withdrawn for the 2008 tax year by 25%; and increasing the age limit for registered retirement savings plans from 69 to 71 years of age, allowing more flexible, phased retirement arrangements.
As we can see from that long list, we have been working hard to deliver real financial benefits for Canadian seniors, but our actions have not stopped there. Our government introduced the tax-free savings account, which is especially useful for seniors as withdrawals from it are GIS exempt. Today, over 90% of seniors are receiving support from the GIS and OAS, which provides over $33 billion in assistance to seniors each year.
As well as increasing supports, we have improved service delivery to better ensure that seniors receive the benefits to which they are entitled. The application processes for the Canada pension plan and old age security have been simplified and updated, allowing seniors easier access to these important supports.
Furthermore, by introducing automatic renewal of the guaranteed income supplement under Bill C-36 in 2007, eligible seniors no longer have to reapply for this benefit every year. While these financial supports and the delivery of these benefits are important, we have made significant progress in a number of other ways.
In 2007, our government created the role of Minister of State for Seniors to be a voice for older adults at the cabinet level. That same year we established the first ever National Seniors Council, which provides advice to the federal government on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors. This fall the council held round tables across the country to gain perspective from Canadians on retirement and labour force participation among seniors and on intergenerational relations. The council will produce a report and recommendations on these topics in the spring.
One of the NSC's past studies was on elder abuse, an issue that this government takes very seriously. In budget 2008, we committed $13 million over three years to the federal elder abuse initiative to help educate all Canadians to recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. With an aging population, it is important that Canadians be aware of this type of mistreatment and be empowered to stand up and to speak out.
Through this initiative, we are working with the provinces and territories as well as professional organizations and community support groups to take measures to help prevent the exploitation of older Canadians. One way that community groups are helping to get this message out is through funding from the new horizons for seniors program, a program so successful and in such high demand that we increased its annual funding to $40 million in budget 2010, so that seniors can continue to be provided with opportunities to be active and engaged in their communities. The new horizons for seniors program also assists seniors to be active leaders and mentors in their communities. They are best able to achieve this through programs that foster inclusion, good nutrition and physical activity.
Bill C-40, which creates National Seniors Day on October 1 of each year, received royal assent just last week. This day will give Canadians an opportunity to collectively celebrate the continued contributions of older Canadians.
I would like to commend my colleague, the Minister of Finance, who has been working hard with his provincial and territorial counterparts to help ensure that older Canadians continue to enjoy a sound, reliable retirement income system. I can assure members that this federal government wants seniors to continue to help create a vibrant and successful Canada. We want our policies, programs and services to encourage and support seniors to remain active, healthy and engaged in their families, workplaces and communities.
We remain committed to ensuring that older Canadians receive the benefits to which they are entitled, that they stay financially secure in retirement and that they remain free from abuse and hardship. We also remain committed to ensuring that Canada is prepared to deal with the demographic shift that is upon us. Right now one in seven Canadians is a senior. In the year 2031, it will be one in four. The so-called boomer apocalypse will have profound impacts on the social and economic fabrics of our nation.
We need to be honest with ourselves and each other as leaders, policy makers, policy influencers, advocates and Canadians that the choices we make today will not only affect the baby boomer bubble but also our children, grandchildren and their children. It is our responsibility to ensure that we leave them a Canada that is just as strong and vibrant as the one we have enjoyed.
Our government will lead in preparing for the future with the well-being of seniors and of all Canadians as our goal.
November 18th, 2010 / 1:35 p.m.
The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin
Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
November 18, 2010
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 18th day of November, 2010, at 9:10 a.m.
Yours sincerely, Sheila-Marie Cook
Secretary to the Governor General
The schedule indicates the bills assented to were BillC-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day and Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).
Statements By Members
October 1st, 2010 / 10:25 a.m.
Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON
Madam Speaker, today Canada joins the international community to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Older Persons. October 1 is also the day designated in Bill C-40 to be Canada's National Seniors Day.
In my riding of Chatham-Kent--Essex, I have conducted a series of visits to seniors homes, where I converse with seniors in an exercise called “listening to seniors”. It is one of my most enjoyable functions, where a wealth of wisdom and advice is gleaned from our oldest and wisest citizens. We talk about the Canada they grew up in and the changes they experienced, good or not so good. They offer an abundance of great advice about where we ought to go and how we ought to get there.
I am thankful for our seniors and forever grateful to them for the Canada they have helped build. I treasure the time I have been able to spend with each one of them and look forward to our next appointment with “listening to seniors”.
Statements By Members
October 1st, 2010 / 10:20 a.m.
Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House to recognize today as the International Day of Older Persons and the proposed day in Bill C-40 to be Canada's National Seniors Day. In June the Minister of State for Seniors introduced Celebrating Canada's Seniors Act, which passed with the support of all parties in the House.
This Conservative government recognizes the important involvement of seniors in our communities and their valuable contributions to Canada as a whole. They are volunteers, mentors, business leaders and experienced workers.
When I think of a senior who volunteered all of his life in many capacities, I think of my long-time acquaintance and friend, Bob Burns of Estevan, Saskatchewan, who at 80 years of age still umpires ball.
On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to say a big thanks to the seniors of our country.
Celebrating Canada's Seniors Act
June 17th, 2010 / 3:10 p.m.
Prince George—Peace River
Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I do have a second motion dealing with Bill C-40. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day, shall be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
I believe my colleague, the Minister of Public Works, also has a point of order and a motion.
Business of the House
June 17th, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
Prince George—Peace River
Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, first of all, perhaps to deal with the issue that was raised by one of my colleagues, the member for Kelowna—Lake Country, about Jazz Air, the Minister of Labour, who has been working diligently on this file for weeks now and certainly at an intensified rate over the last 48 to 72 hours, has addressed that issue.
As she noted, the government filed a notice that appeared on the order paper this morning, indicating that were there to be a work stoppage that would threaten our communities serviced by Jazz Air, threaten the livelihoods of many Canadians, indeed inconvenience business, threaten the fragile economic recovery that we are seeing in all parts of Canada, but obviously would severely threaten the economic recovery in those parts serviced by that airline, the government is prepared to act expeditiously to ensure that work stoppage would be of the shortest possible duration.
As for the business of the House, as it is the Thursday question, today we will continue to debate the opposition motion and then later this evening, the business of supply.
In a few minutes, to address the other question that the official opposition House leader asked, I hope to create and complete, at all its remaining stages, Bill C-23A, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act. We will also be adopting, at all stages, Bill C-40, celebrating Canada's seniors.
As we near the end of this sitting, I want to thank my colleagues for their co-operation, particularly in these last few weeks. We have had many challenges and I think we have met most of them. Most notably was the challenge of these two five-week sitting blocks. I would point out, however, that anyone who just watched question period would have to draw the conclusion that it truly is silly season here in the House of Commons, given the level of the debate.
However, the challenge being that we had to be absent from our constituents and families, the upside of course was that we as members had the opportunity to spend so much quality time together. Just like any good family visit, unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
I would also like to speak briefly to express my appreciation to the House staff who serve us so well.