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B.C. Liberals pledge tax credits to seniors, caregivers for renovations

Interim CEO of Seaspan Shipyards Jonathan Whitworth, left, Premier Christy Clark, centre, and executive chairman of Seaspan Kyle Washington were on hand for the commissioning ceremony of two new Seaspan LNG-fuelled vessels in Delta on Sunday.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A re-elected BC Liberal government would increase and introduce tax credits for renovating homes for seniors as well people caring for seniors as part of a program on seniors' care.

The measures to be announced in the party platform Monday come as the government has faced accusations of shortcomings on seniors' care as campaigning intensifies for the May 9 election.

The Liberals say they will double the home-renovation tax credit from $10,000 to $20,000 to make home improvements to house seniors and also introduce a tax credit of up to $2,500 for people caring for seniors.

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Both measures would also apply to individuals with disabilities needing care.

Referring to the tax breaks, Vancouver-Langara candidate Michael Lee, speaking for the Liberals, said the measures are aimed at reducing the burden on seniors and caregivers to do what's necessary to provide additional care so people can live longer in their homes.

In an interview, Mr. Lee said he agreed more could be done for seniors living in residential care, but that 94 per cent of seniors are actually living in their homes.

Seniors represent 18 per cent of British Columbia's population or about 853,000 people, according to the provincial Office of the Seniors Advocate.

Other measures in the seniors' agenda include building and publicly funding an additional 500 long-term care beds across British Columbia by 2022, and, in another tax measure, introducing a tax credit to support seniors living active healthy lifestyles.

The measures come after the Liberals, in March, said they would invest $500-million over the next four years to improve seniors' care across the system including direct-care hours for seniors in residential care.

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But they also come as both the NDP and the BC Greens are honing in on the seniors' file as an area in which they say they could do better.

In Kelowna last week, NDP Leader John Horgan presided over a roundtable of seniors, hearing stories about challenges in housing and health care.

In response, Mr. Horgan talked about working to drive down the cost of prescription drugs, possibly through bulk buying. He also denounced "heartbreaking" cases of couples being split up when using residential seniors' care.

During a rally in Surrey on Sunday, Mr. Horgan said nine out of 10 seniors' facilities in British Columbia do not have the resources to give seniors the care they need. He did not elaborate, but said an NDP government would address the issue. The NDP has yet to release its platform on seniors' care.

"Seniors are fundamental to all of us. It's a fundamental tenet of our citizenship as Canadians," Mr. Horgan told the rally.

"We're going to make sure seniors get the care they deserve."

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Andrew Weaver, leader of the BC Green Party, will be touring retirement communities in Victoria on Monday, although the party also has yet to issue a platform on seniors' issues,

"BC Greens believe that seniors need more support," the party said in a statement. "Our platform will include investments to help make life more affordable for seniors, including investments in care and ensuring facilities meet guidelines. We support measures to give seniors as much independence as possible and give them the care they need in their homes for as long as possible."

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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