Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to talk about seniors.
Across my riding of North Island—Powell River, I am hearing from more and more seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. They are having a hard time affording food, affording their medication and being able to pay for the key things that make their life reasonable.
I am also hearing from more and more seniors in rental units who are being evicted and have nowhere else to go. It is very concerning to listen to the organizations that work so hard to keep people fed and housed in our region and understand how many seniors are falling through the cracks.
I was able to ask a question several weeks ago about the fact that OAS for seniors is being increased only for seniors 75 and older, which means that seniors aged 65 to 74 are really struggling. It was very interesting to me when a constituent got a hold of my office and talked about the fact that her neighbour, who is over 75, received a letter informing her that her old age security would be increased by about $200 a month, which was a huge relief to that senior. However, the senior who wrote to me is not near 75 yet; she has a few years until she gets there. She talked about how hard it was. She looked it up online, trying to figure out why she did not get the increase, and then she realized it was because of age. This did not reflect her needs.
My question to the government was simply this: Given the reality of inflation, why is the government telling seniors 65 to 74 that they do not require this, especially some of our most vulnerable seniors, who are struggling with poverty?
When I look at the budget, I am very happy to finally see dental care for seniors. I have heard from seniors across my riding, some of whom have waited outside the door with their information because they heard I was fighting for seniors to get dental care. It was absolutely sad to hear the stories of the extreme pain and then often having to wait years, saving money and trying to find a way to pay for root canals and the different procedures they needed. One senior said to me that they could afford a couple of hundred dollars it cost every year to get their teeth cleaned, but they could not afford anything else. Therefore, whenever they had a problem, such as a cavity, it could take them a few years to pay for it. Thus, I am really pleased that dental care is in the budget, but I am unhappy that we do not see anything else.
We know that we forced the government to do this. Two years ago, the Liberals voted against dental care for seniors in this country. We made them do it, and I am glad that it is here. Nevertheless, too many seniors are falling through the cracks, and we could do something about their suffering in this country if the government had the political will to do so.
I want to point out that single seniors are perhaps the most impacted group of seniors. Their cost of living is two-thirds the cost of a couple, and they have to make up that resource for themselves. We know that a lot of single seniors are renting; the cost of housing is significantly higher than it was, and it is only increasing.
Single Seniors for Tax Fairness has come up with some really important ideas that I was hoping to see in the budget. However, we did not see those things reflected in the budget, which I think is very unfortunate.
We need to make sure that the seniors of this country are getting the supports they need so that they can live according to a bar of dignity. Having the OAS increased for those seniors between 65 and 74 would bring up that bar of dignity. It is not the only solution, but it is a solution that this government could put in place fairly quickly if it had the political will.
I am back here again fighting hard for seniors because they deserve to have the financial support to live with dignity. Single seniors with a very fixed income deserve to feel that they can live with dignity, and too many across this country are making decisions between appropriate housing, clothing, bills, heat and medication. I think Canada should do so much more for seniors, and I wonder why the Liberal government does not agree.