The Shuswap received a first-time visit from a federal cabinet minister on Wednesday, March 27.
Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, visited the Shuswap and Kelowna to promote an initiative in the 2019 federal budget aimed at improving life for seniors.
“Canada’s seniors have worked hard to support their families, build strong communities and grow our economy. Their knowledge, skills and experience are the cornerstones our businesses and country were built on,” Qualtrough said.
“With Budget 2019, we are recognizing their contributions by strengthening their connections with their communities, providing support to those who choose to stay in the workforce and ensuring the pensions they have worked so hard to build up over their lives are more secure.”
Qualtrough met with City of Salmon Arm elected officials and staff. She then visited a group of seniors at the Sunnybrae Hall.
The minister, who represents Delta, also toured the Shuswap Association for Community Living’s downtown Salmon Arm facility. The association provides support services for adults with disabilities.
“She is just down to earth. She really wanted to know more about what it was like living here in Salmon Arm if you have a disability,” said Jo-Anne Crawford, executive director of the Shuswap Association for Community Living.
Crawford said Qualtrough had a detailed conversation about living with a disability with Brian Erikson, a member of Shuswap Connextions, a self-advocacy group for adults with disabilities. They covered topics including the difficulties of transportation to neighbouring communities and areas like the industrial park for people with disabilities.
According to a notice circulated by Qualtrough’s staff, budget provisions benefiting seniors include enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption and measures to better protect workplace pensions in the event of corporate insolvency. Funding is also being increased to the New Horizons for Seniors Program, which hopes to provide new equipment for seniors’ centres, offer financial literacy classes, create volunteer opportunities and more. Funds totalling $50 million to support a national dementia strategy were also approved.