Children, Seniors and Social Development
April 17, 2019

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Lisa Dempster, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development:

Provincial Government Continues Support for Seniors in Budget 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this Honourable House today to highlight our continued commitment to seniors through Budget 2019.

As our population continues to age, we are creating new ways to ensure that residents can continue to be full and active participants in their communities.

That’s why our government has allocated $270,000 in Budget 2019 for the new Social Inclusion Initiative.

This funding will provide 50+ clubs with grants of up to $2,000. This money is to be used for initiatives that help seniors participate in community events and other activities that support healthy aging, and promote mental health and well-being.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to assure our seniors that we have heard their concerns about how the Muskrat Falls Project could cause their electricity bills to increase substantially, and that is one of the reasons we introduced our rate mitigation framework earlier this week.

This plan will protect all residents, but most importantly, people who have low or fixed incomes, from increases to electricity rates and taxes that would affect the cost of living as a result of the Muskrat Falls project.

These actions are in addition to the many steps we’ve already taken to ensure seniors have the supports and services they need to age with dignity while continuing to be active and healthy contributors to their communities.

For example, through Budget 2019 we will continue to provide the Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors’ Benefit, which provides up to $1,313 annually to adults aged 65 and older. We also continue to provide the Newfoundland and Labrador Income Supplement - an annual financial commitment that helps individuals living with low income to better meet their needs. Combined, these programs provide $123 million to individuals with low income.

Mr. Speaker, just last month we awarded $300,000 through the new Community Transportation Grants Program and I’m pleased to say that this program will continue through Budget 2019. While the program addresses barriers to accessible transportation for many different sectors of our society, seniors will certainly benefit in a significant way.

Our government will also continue to invest $95,000 annually for the Age-Friendly Communities Program. Municipalities like Cormack, Gambo, Grand Falls-Windsor, Isle aux Morts, New-Wes-Valley, Placentia, St. Lawrence and Summerford are some of the most recent to take advantage of this funding to undertake assessments and develop initiatives to help make their communities more age-friendly.

Mr. Speaker, we have been able to accomplish all of this through our strong collaborations with a number of valued community partners. I extend my sincere appreciation to the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors, Seniors NL, the Newfoundland and Labrador 50-Plus Federation and the Seniors Coalition.

We look forward to continuing to work with them and of course with the Office of the Seniors’ Advocate, led by Dr. Suzanne Brake, who was appointed in 2017.

We all appreciate how the seniors of our province have shaped this place we call home and we welcome their continued contributions in our communities.

I call on all of my colleagues, and all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to show their support and appreciation for our seniors.

Thank you.

2019 04 17                              2:25 p.m.