Seniors’ health improving, but rates of depression, anxiety rising: U of M study

Manitoba seniors are staying physically healthy longer, but their mental health may be worsening, a massive study of health data by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Manitoba has found.

The study of more than 200,000 Manitoba seniors compared two periods of five years: 2005-2010 and 2010-2015. It found that seniors are living longer, experiencing fewer heart attacks or strokes, and staying longer in the community – that is, in a private home or retirement residence, not an institution such as a personal care home.  

“On average, at age 65, men can expect to live outside an institution until age 82, and women until age 85,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Dan Chateau, assistant professor of community health sciences at the Max Rady College of Medicine in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

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“ Until May 15, 2019, take part in the online consultation by sharing your ideas. We want to hear what sustainable development means to you, what you are doing to build a more sustainable and equitable Canada, and what can be done to advance progress on the 2030 Agenda, for a Canada where no one is left behind.

We want YOU to be a part of this important work! You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter and join the #Can2030Agenda conversation.”

(And the link to our Govt link) to find out more.

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Combating ageism in the workplace

Like in most industrialized countries, the Canadian population is aging due to a low fertility rate and a longer life expectancy. The number of young workers entering the labour market is not offsetting the loss of older workers who are retiring, which is causing a labour shortage that is already being felt in many sectors.(1) As a result, recruiting experienced and skilled workers has become a challenge. No wonder companies are putting in place incentives to hire older workers or to retain older workers who are contemplating retirement. Governments are also involved in introducing fiscal measures to delay workers’ retirement or to encourage those in retirement to return to the labour market.(2)

Although there is a desperate need for experienced and skilled labour, older workers are facing challenges. In fact, many of them face stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination because of their age.(3) This phenomenon, known as ageism, is widespread and has adverse effects on the health and well-being of older workers, while marginalizing and excluding them. It can also have devastating impacts on the work climate and organizational productivity.(4) Can research evidence shed light on this phenomenon?

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Canada Pension Plan Gets New Attention

The Government recognizes that after a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve dignified and secure retirements. That’s why we are making changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). On January 1, 2019, the Government of Canada implemented reforms to enhance the CPP to help Canadians enjoy greater financial security. These new measures will provide more money to Canadians when they retire so that they can worry less about their future. What do the CPP enhancements mean? The amounts Canadians pay into the plan will gradually rise between 2019 and 2025. This will help ensure workers and employers can adjust to the modest increase in contributions. Enhanced benefits will gradually grow over time as Canadians work and contribute to the CPP enhancement. For young workers entering the workforce now, the CPP enhancement will increase their maximum CPP retirement pension by approximately 50 percent. This means workers will receive higher benefits in exchange for making higher contributions. Who is affected? The changes will aim to help young workers and future workers the most. Each year of contributions to the enhanced CPP will further increase benefits for workers of all ages. The CPP enhancement will provide more retirement income to all those who work and contribute in 2019 or later. Additional improvements to the CPP Five additional CPP improvements have also taken effect January 1, 2019, providing further support to parents, people with disabilities, young survivors, and families of deceased low-income workers. These improvements do not require any further change in contributions. The newly reformed Survivor’s Pension eliminates age-based reductions and ensures every survivor whose deceased spouse/partner made sufficient CPP contributions will be eligible for a survivor’s pension. Before this change, survivors who did not have dependent children had their survivor’s pension reduced or eliminated, based on their age. Now, anyone under age 35 will be eligible to receive the pension immediately. They previously would have had to wait to age 65 to receive a survivor’s pension. It is estimated that about 40,000 individuals will benefit from this change, about half of them being young survivors who would become eligible to receive their survivor’s pension before age 65. The Child Rearing Provision supports parents who stop working or reduce their work hours to become the primary caregiver to their young children. In each year while a child is under the age of seven, the CPP enhancement would “drop in” an amount equal to the parent’s average earnings during the five years prior to the birth or adoption of the child¬—if that amount is higher than their actual earnings during that period. This increases the pensions of parents who reduce their income to take care of their children. The Disability Benefit supports contributors by “dropping in” earnings for the years when they received the CPP disability pension. This increases retirement pensions for individuals with severe and prolonged disabilities. The Death Benefit is now a flat rate benefit of $2,500. This means that the estates of all eligible contributors will receive the same amount, regardless of actual earnings. The new Post Retirement Disability Benefit supports people with disabilities collecting an early retirement pension up to the age of 65. Beneficiaries who meet the same medical and contributory requirements as for the CPP disability pension will become eligible for the flat-rate portion of the disability benefit ($496.36 in 2019) in addition to the early retirement pension they are already receiving. Initiatives like these support the Government’s overall commitment to strengthen the middle class and help those working hard to join it.

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OPINION: Pension protection should be federal priority

Pension protection for Canadians is long overdue. When a company becomes insolvent and its pension is underfunded, pensioners are powerless to intervene and secure their pensions.

Sears, Nortel and other corporate pensioners experienced sharp reductions in their annual pension income after those companies failed. In March of this year, Imperial Tobacco filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Yet another group of defined-benefit pensioners now find themselves potentially facing cuts to their pensions. Action to resolve this issue is long overdue.

What is the problem? Over 1.3 million Canadian retirees and their spouses have private defined-benefit pension plans. But there are no real protections for Canadian defined-benefit pensioners when a company goes bankrupt. While all other creditors can negotiate terms to protect their interests, pensioners have no such ability. Creditors in name only, pensioners are entirely dependent on legislation to protect their interests. They aren’t even allocated a seat at the table, unless the court grants them one.

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NPF working in coalition with other like minded groups raises the bar for accomplishing what is possible. Keep on keeping stronger together to get the job done… Super Priority for pensions.:

Advocacy groups say 2019 federal budget fails to safeguard employer pensions

TORONTO — Bill Morneau’s fourth federal budget since the Liberals came to power in 2015 contained a variety of pre-election goodies, including many directed at seniors, when it was tabled last week in a raucous House of Commons.

But a number of advocacy groups say Budget 2019 doesn’t go far enough to safeguard members of private-sector pensions and they’re lobbying all federal parties to include more retirement income protections in their election platforms.

The big item is a new national employer-funded insurance program that would make up for shortfalls of any underfunded pension plans in the event the sponsoring employer goes extinct or can’t pay its retirement benefits in full.

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Join us in responding to the national crisis in rising drug costs and controls for pharmaceutical deals

Dear Minister Petipas Taylor:   

Re: Pharmaceutical Corporations Secret Kickbacks to Pharmacies

Members of the National Pensioners Federation, which represents some 800,000 Canadian seniors, were shocked to learn from a recent CBC Fifth Estate program that many if not all pharmaceutical corporations in Ontario are driving up the costs of generic drugs by paying pharmacists kickbacks of 50% to 70% over the actual cost of a drug. The new inflated cost of the drug is then passed on to us, older adults and taxpayers. 

The CBC investigation, which secretly filmed several pharmacy owners requesting a “rebate” from a CBC representative that they believed was representing a drug company, is irrefutable. And although the practice is illegal in Ontario, it is thriving and likely flourishing unchecked across Canada. The 2019 conviction of COSTCO and the payment of a fine of $7.25 million for demanding rebates for their 29 Ontario Pharmacies may be a partial deterrent but it is very unusual.  

We know that 10 percent or more of Canadians cannot afford to buy the prescription drugs they need to keep well. By demanding and accepting kickbacks that increase the cost of drugs, pharmacists as well as pharmaceutical corporations contribute to ill-health and the cost of health care in general. 

We wonder why the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the mandate of which is “to serve and protect the public” has so clearly failed to protect the public from such widespread, illegal and harmful practices. These secret dealings are fraudulent and also undermine the trust that many seniors have in their pharmacists’ integrity and in any advice they provide.

We wonder why, the federal regulatory agency, the Competition Bureau of Canada conducted an investigation into kickbacks to pharmacists and then cancelled it. 

In July 2018, as two provinces prepared to force more transparency, ten of the largest Canadian pharmaceutical companies disclosed that they paid almost $75 million to doctors and health care organizations in the previous year. That they “incentivize” doctors is not new but now we are finding out that these companies are also providing operational funding and other incentives to orphan disease patient groups and also to other non-profit health associations, including seniors organizations, so they will promote these companies’ drugs and as well as lobby with governments for the addition of their drugs to provincial formularies. 

As Minister of Health, you are responsible for the health and well being of all Canadians. These drug companies’ practices that drive up health care costs and succeed in corrupting pharmacists, doctors, and non-profit citizen groups in order to increase profits need to be stopped immediately.  

We therefore request that you act immediately to establish a public Inquiry into these drug company practices that add to health care costs and that are debasing many health professionals and otherwise decent members of our society. 

On behalf of our membership we await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Trish McAuliffe


National Pensioners Federation

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