National Seniors Day 2014 - Conservative Government continues commitment to seniorsSeptember 25, 2014,
1 October 2014
NATIONAL SENIORS DAY 2014
Conservative Government continues commitment to seniors
In celebration and appreciation of seniors across the country on this year’s National Seniors Day, I would like to take the time to outline the many initiatives our Conservative Government has created to support the people that have contributed a lifetime of hard work and dedication to their families, workplaces, and this country.
Budget 2014 introduces numerous measures that will help enhance the lives of seniors. These measures include:
· Proposing an additional $5 million per year (making it 50 million annually) for the New Horizons for Seniors Program to support seniors drop-in centers, including equipment;
· Proposing to renew and expand the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW) program by investing $75 million over three years to assist older workers with skill-building and job matching;
· Launch of the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Action Plan; an initiative that will help caregivers gain better access to employment while still caring for loved ones;
· Introducing Digital Privacy Legislation that will help combat financial abuse of elders; and
· Introducing the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights- legislation that will ensure victims’ voices are heard in the criminal justice and correctional systems. This is in addition to our Government’s Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act passed last year to help combat elder abuse.
Financial and tax relief for seniors
Our Government believes that seniors should be rewarded for their lifetime of hard work. That is why we have saved seniors approximately $2.8 billion dollars in tax relief since 2006. As a result of these initiatives, approximately 380,000 seniors have been removed from the tax rolls completely.
Some of these measures included:
· Increasing the Age Credit by $2,000;
· Doubling the Pension Income Tax Credit maximum to $2,000;
· Introducing pension income splitting, which saves some couples thousands of dollars;
· Expanded tax relief for home care services, such as bathing, feeding and other personal care;
· Giving Canadians the option to receive their OAS pension at a later date in exchange for a higher monthly amount in the future;
· Allowing CPP contributors to receive their pension while still working, to provide more flexibility for retirement planning; and
· Introducing the largest Guaranteed Income Supplement increase in over 25 years, by investing more than $300 million per year to further improve the financial security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors across Canada.
Staying active, engaged and informed
Our Government wants to ensure tools are put in place to help seniors achieve the best quality of life possible. We know that just over a third of Canadian seniors perform volunteer work, with those over 65 contributing about 223 hours a year, compared to the national average of 156 hours. That is why through the New Horizons program, 1770 new community-based volunteer projects were funded in the 2013-2014 year. In our riding of Vegreville-Wainwright, the most recent projects include upgrades and renovations for:
· The Hitching Post Senior Society;
· Viking Seniors Club;
· Andrew Rainbow Club;
· Clandonald Friendship Club;
· Bruderheim Seniors Club;
· Tofield/Ryley/Beaver FCSS;
· Paradise Valley and District Seniors Centre;
· Edgerton 50-Plus Club;
· Vegreville Senior Citizens Sunshine Club; and
· Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre Inc.
Through these programs, we are giving opportunities for seniors to stay engaged with society through volunteering, mentoring, expanding awareness of elder abuse, and overall social participation. The New Horizons for Seniors Program has funded more than 13,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada since 2006. For more information on our tips and other programs for helping seniors to stay active, engaged and informed, please call (1-800-622-6232) or visit www.seniors.gc.ca.
Seniors play an invaluable role in society. They have helped contribute to the success of this country, and are there to teach and mentor new generations. I give my most sincere appreciation to all seniors on this day and wish happiness and health for years to come.
Leon Benoit, M.P.
Ukrainian President's Message: "Thank you, Canada"September 23, 2014,
OTTAWA (23 September 2014) – Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, was moved by President Poroshenko’s warm “thank you” to Canada for a history of strong support to Ukraine, both during the current crisis and since the adoption of Ukraine’s independence in 1991.
Before a joint sitting of Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Canada’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine. “Canada recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, all of Ukraine. Whether it takes five months or 50 years to liberate it we will never, ever recognize the illegal Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory… as I have said before, for Canadians, with our deep connections to the Ukrainian people, this is not to us just a matter of international law or political principle, this is a matter of kinship, this is a matter of family, this is personal and we will stand by you.”
In a stirring speech, President Poroshenko praised Canada’s world-leading role during a time of conflict and uncertainty. “Canada is probably the most Ukrainian nation outside of Ukraine itself… [and] Ukraine is probably the most Canadian nation after Canada itself,” remarked President Poroshenko. “I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your government, to the opposition, to the Canadian parliamentarians and senators, all Canadians and fellow Ukrainians for standing tall and making your voice heard, for helping financially with technical assistance and with non-lethal military aid… our great achievement and our victory has happened because of your support.”
The President’s visit followed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip to Ukraine in March, which made him the first G-7 leader to visit Ukraine after the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea. Wednesday’s official visit – the first by President Poroshenko to Canada – led to an agreement on the provision of Canada’s loan to Ukraine, which will promote economic reforms in the country and provide additional humanitarian assistance such as food, medical support and safe drinking water to the estimated 3.9 million people living in areas affected by violence.
Benoit remarked that President Poroshenko’s visit only further solidifies Canada’s remarkable relationship with Ukraine. “President Poroshenko’s heartfelt thank you for Canada’s commitment to Ukraine and Canadians of Ukrainian descent was deeply touching. It was incredibly moving to hear first-hand what a difference our stance in defence of democracy and freedom has made, and will continue to make, to the people of Ukraine.”
Budget 2014 Continues Conservative Government Record of Helping Students SucceedSeptember 03, 2014,
As summer comes to a close and classes are about to resume, I would like to take this opportunity to advise students in the constituency of some of the measures introduced or improved by our Conservative Government – in Budget 2014 and past budgets – to help ease the financial burden of post-secondary education and better prepare students for the transition into the job market.
Canada Student Loan Program
Under our conservative watch, the Canada Student Loan Program has expanded its eligibly and funding by investing 34 million yearly into the program, once fully implemented. The Canada Student Loan Program provides financial assistance for post-secondary students who demonstrate financial need. The program is administered in conjunction with provincial/territorial student loan programs. Therefore, a student will be considered automatically for this program when applying to their provincial student assistance program.
As a part of Economic Action Plan 2014, our Government is proposing to eliminate the value of student-owned vehicles from the Canada Student Loans Program assessment process. This means that students will no longer receive less financial aid as a result of owning a car. This mechanism was in place for almost twenty years and our government is proud to eliminate this barrier for students who need a vehicle to attend post-secondary school.
Aside from loans, our Conservative Government has implemented numerous grants which do not have to be repaid. Students are automatically accessed for these grants when they are approved for a Canada Student Loan. These grants include:
- Grant for Part-Time Studies: up to $1,200 per year;
- Grants for Part-Time Students with Dependents: $40 a week (two dependents); $60 a week (three or more dependents);
- Grant for Services and Equipment for Students with Permanent Disabilities: up to $8,000 a year;
- Grant for Students from Low-Income Families: $250 per month of study;
- Grant for Students from Middle-Income Families: $100 per month of study; and
- Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities: up to $2,000 per year.
Assistance for Apprentices
For those seeking a career in a designated Red Seal trade, our government offers two grant opportunities: the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant and the Apprenticeship Completion Grant. The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) helps new apprentices get started by providing a taxable cash grant up to a maximum of $2,000 per person for registered apprentices who have completed their first or second year/level (or equivalent) training. The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) assists apprentices who have completed their program and are now working towards becoming certified journeypersons by providing a $2,000 taxable cash grant.
Additionally, Economic Action Plan 2014 expands the Canada Student Loans Program to include apprentices registered in a Red Seals trade. This will provide aspiring Red Seal certified skills workers with over $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
Transitioning into the Job Market
Students who have graduated or are looking to narrow their career path may find our Government’s newly-enhanced Job Bank useful as well. Not only does the database allow you to search for available employment opportunities across the country, but newly enhanced functions allow the user to explore career paths via education programs, wages, outlook and skill. I encourage all students to visit the Job Bank website when searching for and exploring employment opportunities.
In addition to the Job Bank, our Government is also doing the following to help prepare students for the job market:
• investing over $330 million a year into the Youth Employment Strategy by providing skills development and work experience for youth at risk, summer students and recent post-graduate students;
• investing $70 million over three years to support 5,000 more paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates and confirming support for Pathways to Education Canada, a not for-profit organization that works with youth to increase rates of high school completion; and
• providing $20 million over two years to help the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to support young entrepreneurs.
A record of accomplishment
These initiatives build on our existing record of commitment to students since entering office in 2006, such as:
- in 2012, eliminating interest on new and existing loans for part-time students during their studies, making education more affordable and on average, saving part-time students nearly $350 annually;
- providing up to $10 million a year in tax relief and Registered Education Savings Plan assistance to the increasing number of Canadian post-secondary students who study abroad;
- providing $10 million over two years to develop and implement an international education strategy that will reinforce Canada as a country of choice to study and conduct world-class research;
- increasing the Canada Social Transfer by $800 million per year starting in 2008-2009, to strengthen the quality and competitiveness of Canada’s post-secondary education system;
- investing $123 million to streamline and modernize the Canada Student Loans Program;
- allowing full-time students to earn more money by doubling the in-study income exemption, benefiting approximately 100,000 students each year;
- reducing the in-study interest rate for part-time students to zero, saving them approximately $5.6 million per year; and
- providing the greatest number of scholarships ever granted to our graduate students through the Canada Graduate Scholarships program. These prestigious awards are worth $50,000 annually for doctoral students, for up to three years.
Our government will also continue to provide the best possible economic environment for employment opportunity as more students enter the work force. I wish all students from Vegreville-Wainwright a successful and safe school year.
Protecting Canadian ConsumersAugust 29, 2014,
Canadian families work hard to make ends meet, and every dollar counts. That is why our Government has introduced a number of measures to protect Canadians and their families while encouraging healthy competition and lower consumer prices.
For instance, before our Government took action, Canada did not have the power to order the mandatory recall of dangerous products, nor did we have the power to force stores to take dangerous products off the shelves. This is why we introduced and passed the Consumer Product Safety Act in 2012. This groundbreaking legislation:
prohibits the manufacture, importation, advertisement or sale of any consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human health or safety;
requires industry to report when they know about a serious incident, or death, related to their product to provide the government with timely information about important product safety issues;
requires manufacturers or importers to provide test/study results on products when asked;
allows the Minister of Health to recall dangerous consumer products; and
raises fines and penalties for non-compliance
In 2010, our Government declared bisphenol-A (commonly known as BPA), a chemical found in baby bottles and sippy cups, as toxic; announced the toughest regulations in the world for lead reduction in children’s toys; and drastically improved standards for cribs to keep infants and toddlers safe. We also asked for a voluntary recall of the use of cadmium in children’s costume jewellery.
The launch of healthycanadians.gc.ca/kids now makes product recalls as easy as signing up for e-mail info-alerts that can either be sent to smart phones or personal e-mail accounts. Canadians can select what type of product recall alert they would like to receive, including info-alerts on a variety of topics from car recalls to food recalls and toy recalls.
Updating Canada’s World-Leading Chemicals Management Plan
Originally launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2006, the Chemicals Management Plan provides funding to ensure Canadian consumer products are safe, and provides funding for research into substances like Bisphenol A, flame retardants, substances that affect hormone function and substances that affect the environment.
Stronger Labelling on Tobacco Packaging
Part of consumer product safety is ensuring that consumers are fully aware of the product they are purchasing. This is why our Government has introduced new, updated and larger health warning messages for cigarette and little cigar packages, complemented and strengthened by a social marketing campaign targeted in particular at young Canadians.
Also, we tabled the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act, which is now law. The legislation bans tobacco flavours that would appeal to children and sets minimum package sizes and bans all tobacco advertising. We have also invested funds in preventing contraband tobacco.
Child Car Seat Testing
We introduced new regulations to strengthen the testing standards of child car seats, making Canada’s testing among the toughest in the world.
A Strong Record of Action
Some of the other measures this Government has taken to protect Canadians since 2006 - while encouraging healthy competition and lower prices - include:
- reducing taxes to leave more money in the pockets of consumers;
- removing tariffs on baby clothing and sports and athletic equipment to help reduce the cost of those goods for Canadian consumers;
- strengthening the position of credit card users through sweeping reforms to require summary boxes for credit card statements, impose a mandatory 21-day interest-free grace period on credit cards, ban unsolicited credit card cheques and require consent for credit limit increases;
- increasing access to funds by reducing cheque hold periods, banning negative option billing, and strengthening disclosure by introducing a mortgage prepayment code of conduct and regulations for pre-paid cards;
- adopting a wireless policy focused on stimulating greater competition, which has helped to reduce wireless rates by 20 per cent since 2008 and led to more choice and better service for consumers;
- requiring all-inclusive airfare advertising to ensure that consumers can clearly see the total price of an airline ticket, with no hidden fees;
- strengthening Canada’s food safety system by providing over $500 million since 2006 to support the hiring of new inspectors, an improved inspection approach, enhanced oversight of imported foods, increased scientific capacity, and better training and more modern tools for inspectors;
- introduced and passed the Fairness at the Pumps Act to help protect Canadians against price-fixing; and
- implemented a new wireless code which provides individual and small business consumers far more choice, clarity and flexibility in their wireless contracts.
These measures, and others, are taking effect to protect Canadian consumers against unfair retail practices. We will continue to make common sense changes which will ensure that Canadians and their families get what they pay for when purchasing goods we buy every day, such as gas, clothes and groceries.
Leon Benoit, MP