Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to take part in this debate on Motion No. 203. In fact this motion, which was tabled by the hon. member for Richmond Centre, is directly in line with our government's current priorities relating to seniors.
Like all Canadians, the federal government is committed to ensuring the health and well-being of Canadian seniors. The very fact that the Prime Minister appointed a Minister of Seniors last year is a very good example of this commitment. I would even add that it is our duty as parliamentarians and as citizens to support seniors. Rest assured that we are committed to ensuring that Canadian seniors and future retirees have greater security and a better quality of life.
In fact, the government has implemented several measures over the last three years to ensure the financial security of seniors. First, we have restored the age of eligibility for the old age security pension and the guaranteed income supplement from 67 years to 65 years. This measure alone prevented approximately 100,000 seniors from falling into poverty.
There is also the fact that we increased the guaranteed income supplement by $947 per year for low-income seniors who live alone. For some people, $947 per year does not seem like a lot, but for seniors who are living at or below the poverty line, this money can make all the difference covering the cost of their rent, groceries or any other basic needs. This increase in the guaranteed income supplement helped nearly 900,000 low-income seniors improve their financial situations.
We have also worked closely with the provinces to improve the Canada Pension Plan. To ensure seniors have a financially comfortable retirement, we have diversified and simplified our methods, particularly online, to give seniors several ways to access their benefits. For example, seniors will soon be able to submit a single application to have access to both their old age security benefits and their guaranteed income supplement.
Budget 2019 proposes to support low-income Canadian seniors who choose to stay in the labour market and to support seniors' participation and inclusion in their communities. In fact, in budget 2019 the government is proposing a series of measures that aim to improve the quality of life for Canadian seniors.
For example, the budget suggests passing new legislation that would considerably improve the guaranteed income supplement earnings exemption as of July 2020.
This legislation would extend eligibility for the earnings exemption to income from self-employed work and would give a total or partial exemption to annual employment and self-employment income of up to $15,000.
Budget 2019 also proposes legislative changes that aim to proactively register contributors to the Canada Pension Plan who will be 70 years of age or older in 2020 but who have not yet applied to receive their retirement benefits.
Another interesting proposal in this budget is the increase in funding for the new horizons for seniors program that addresses issues such as elder abuse, which would include financial abuse. The result would be an additional $100 million over five years and $20 million per year ongoing to support projects that improve quality of life for seniors and promote their full participation in society.
What is more, the government is committed to protecting Canadians' pensions. As a result, budget 2019 proposes legislative changes to to the Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Canada Business Corporations Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. These changes would help better protect pension plans offered by employers in the event that a company becomes insolvent.
We are also proposing to provide $12.5 million over 10 years to the Global Risk Institute so it can continue its work on developing new approaches in financial risk management. The budget also proposes to provide $150,000 over three years to the institute's National Pension Hub to support pension research on improving the retirement savings results for Canadians and the development of solutions to challenges related to pensions.
What is more, budget 2019 proposes to invest $35 million in 2019 and 2020 so that the assisted living program continues to meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities who are living on a reserve.
In addition, the recent budget proposes to develop new legislation that will require the federal government to maintain a national housing strategy that prioritizes housing for the most vulnerable people, including our seniors.
Finally, in this budget we are confirming our commitment to moving forward with a bill to reduce poverty.
In conclusion, the government supports Motion No. 203, which firmly condemns fraudulent activity against seniors.
Let me be clear: Any type of violence toward seniors must be denounced and fought wherever it exists—not only physical or psychological violence, but also the insidious violence that is the financial abuse of seniors.
Of course, scammers have victims in every segment of the population, without discrimination. However, when they target seniors, especially the most vulnerable seniors, this becomes particularly despicable and completely inexcusable.