Lenore Zann MLA report
MLA Lenore Zann chats with some Red Hatters at Parkland Estates during a wild blueberry festival event. SUBMITTED PHOTO
‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens.
And learn to spit …’
So begins Jenny Joseph’s poem from which the Red Hat Society was born.
During the recent wild blueberry festival I attended many wonderful events but my favourite was the Parkland Estates Blueberry Tea held at their gazebo with its gorgeous view of Truro and beyond.
It was wonderful to speak with the many seniors and their families enjoying the sunshine and music by my friends, local performers Andrew Morrison and Laurel Holland.
Actress Betty Davis once famously said “Old age ain’t for sissies!” So it is with pleasure I share some good news that will make life a little easier for seniors. The province is creating a Seniors Navigator Program to help connect seniors to the services and supports they need. Since seniors built the social system that Nova Scotians enjoy today, New Democrats believe they deserve to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible.
There are a variety of programs and services available to support Nova Scotians as they age but physical, mental or mobility issues may prevent some from getting the help they need. Navigators will reach out to seniors and offer one-on-one help to connect them to existing programs and services. Navigators will be available starting in 2014. To find out how this is progressing or get other updates, you can do this several ways: Call the Department of Health and Wellness toll-free (1-800-225-7225 or call the seniors information line toll-free (1-800-670-0065.
But there is more good news for seniors, including:
1. Expansion of the senior citizens assistance program. The province will provide seniors with an additional $1 million to help cover the cost of critical repairs to their homes to fix or replace leaking roofs, upgrade plumbing or repair aging furnaces.
2. Putting more money back in the pockets of Nova Scotia seniors. As of January, 2014 25,000 seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement will no longer have to pay any provincial income tax. An additional 4,000 seniors will also have part of their tax returned through a new provincial $1,000 non-refundable tax credit. In total, 29,000 seniors will receive more financial aid. In addition, the Nova Scotia Affordable Living Tax Credit gives seniors in low-income households $255 per year to offset the cost of paying the GST.
3. More options to stay in homes and communities longer.
Our government removed the provincial portion of the HST from home heating bills and we’re helping low-income homeowners with energy-saving upgrades, home heating costs through the heating assistance rebate program, and the Seniors Property Tax Rebate is helping 15,000 low-income seniors cover a portion of their property taxes.
4. Reducing the GST. Now that together we have brought the province back to balance by reducing the deficit and receiving a triple A credit rating for the first time in our province's history, the provincial HST will be reduced by one per cent next year and by another one per cent the following year - as promised.
About 1,000 Nova Scotians now turn 65 every year. The Baby Boomers are retiring. We NDP believe seniors deserve to be treated like gold in their golden years. And that means a brighter future. But for those who, like me, who have not yet reached our own golden years, Joseph sums it up at the end of her poem:
‘Maybe we ought to practice a little now? So people who know us aren’t shocked or surprised when suddenly we are old and start to wear purple.’
Enjoy the end of summer and the harvest season.
Lenore Zann is the NDP MLA for the riding of Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.