Mr. Speaker, we are all deeply concerned with the well-being and financial security of seniors. Older Canadians have made and continue to make such valuable contributions to our communities, workplaces and our families.
Seniors have been a priority for the Government of Canada and they remain a priority with good reason. Like many countries, Canada has a growing seniors population. We are seeing a huge demographic shift, which will bring many new opportunities but also challenges that we need to prepare for.
Seniors are the fastest-growing demographic group in Canada. For the first time in Canada's history, there are more Canadians aged 65 and older than there are Canadians aged 14 years and younger. It is projected that by 2030, seniors will represent nearly a quarter of the population. That is good news. It means that Canadians are living longer and that is something to celebrate. It also means that our government must continue to develop and promote important initiatives that address seniors issues and work to promote opportunities for Canadian seniors.
I welcome the motion put forth by the hon. member for Richmond Centre concerning fraudulent activities against seniors. Fraud is a serious crime that can affect all Canadians, but it is especially disheartening when seniors fall victim to this particular crime.
Each year, countless Canadians lose millions of dollars to scammers who bombard us with online mail, door-to-door and telephone scams. Scammers target people of all backgrounds, ages and income levels, including seniors. How do they do it? Fake lotteries, Internet frauds, “get rich quick” schemes and miracle health cures are some of the popular means of separating the unwary from their money. New varieties of these scams appear all the time.
Who has not received the automated phone call claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency and threatening people with arrest over unpaid taxes? I know that I have received many of those calls, as have many others in my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt. Hanging up is the best way to mitigate those annoying calls. Indeed, tens of thousands of Canadians have been targeted by this scam.
I can assure everyone that the government is running outreach efforts on several fronts to help Canadians protect themselves from scammers. The Canada Revenue Agency raises awareness by providing information on its fraud prevention page on Canada.ca, sharing information through news networks, posting tips on social media, distributing pamphlets by mail and working with its partners to conduct community outreach activities.
The agency regularly provides interviews and issues tax tips to the public and to stakeholders to help individuals recognize and avoid common scams. The CRA's regional offices are particularly active through media outreach and participating in local events with community associations, especially with local police forces and seniors associations.
To support these efforts, the CRA regularly updates the “Protect yourself against fraud” web page with the newest examples of fraudulent communications, tips to recognize an actual call from the agency and printable posters that can be displayed in gift card sections or at bitcoin machines, which are common methods of payment fraudsters use to collect money from their victims.
However, our efforts go well beyond that. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is also playing a role in preventing fraud. It is Canada's central repository for data, intelligence and resource material as it relates to fraud. The information gathered by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is primarily used to support prevention through education and awareness, disruption of criminal activities, dissemination of intelligence, support to law enforcement and strengthening partnerships between the private and public sectors with the aim of maintaining Canada's strong economic integrity.
The Competition Bureau of Canada also produces an important guide entitled “The Little Black Book of Scams”. This booklet is available to all Canadians and it outlines many of the most common types of scams and lists the contact information of fraud fighting agencies that are there to help. It also provides tips on how to stop fraudsters in their tracks.
We also have a fraud prevention forum, which is chaired by the Competition Bureau. This forum is comprised of nearly 100 public and private sector organizations that focus on fighting fraud aimed at consumers and that, of course, includes seniors.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has developed a strategy entitled “Strengthening Seniors' Financial Literacy”. One of the four goals of the strategy focuses on increasing the number of tools to combat fraud and financial abuse of seniors. The agency also issues consumer alerts on fraud, scams and sales practices.
In the same vein, we are taking action to prevent and raise awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse. We carry out these efforts through programs like the new horizons for seniors program, which provides over $35 million each year to support community-based projects that address issues such as elder abuse.
Last, I would like to mention the recently introduced legislative amendments to Bill C-86. The bill proposes to make amendments to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act and the Bank Act, which will advance the rights and interests of bank consumers, including seniors, and to ensure all Canadians benefit from strong consumer protection standards in banking. It will also provide the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada with additional tools to implement supervisory best practices. This agency will engage with banks and seniors groups to create a code of conduct to guide banks in their delivery of services to Canada's seniors. The Minister of Seniors supports these engagements.
We also restored the age of eligibility for the old age security pension and the guaranteed income supplement from 67 back to 65 years old. This is keeping about 100,000 future 65 and 66 year-old vulnerable seniors from falling into poverty.
Our Canadian seniors are valued members of our society.
We are working from a number of fronts to raise awareness of fraudulent activities for all Canadians, including seniors. As I mentioned earlier, the Government of Canada is concerned with the financial security of older Canadians.
That is why we have taken steps to help more seniors get out of poverty.
We have done this by increasing the top-up of the guaranteed income supplement. This move alone is improving financial security for almost 900,000 low-income seniors and lifting thousands of seniors out of poverty. It is our duty to support and protect them, and that is exactly what we are doing.
The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadian seniors and future retirees greater security and a better quality of life.