Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a rejigged cabinet on Wednesday to lead the Liberal government into the final stretch of its term before voters go to the polls again in October 2019.
The shuffle juggles some familiar names into new positions while adding some new faces to an expanded cabinet. One of the new additions is Filomena Tassi, who steps into the seniors portfolio which has been restored to cabinet after being a casualty in the trimmed-down cabinet Trudeau introduced following the Liberals’ 2015 election victory.
Two national organizations were quick to applaud the appointment of a federal seniors minister.
After advocating for a dedicated voice for seniors in the federal cabinet, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) welcomed Wednesday’s move.
“After more than three years without real representation for older Canadians, we look forward to having a strong voice for seniors at the cabinet table,” Laura Tamblyn Watts, CARP’s National Director of Law, Policy and Research, said in a news release.
“With six million seniors now in Canada, and nearly a quarter of the population over the age of 65 by 2031, Canadians need a co-ordinated department to respond to the current needs of seniors and to plan for the future age wave,” Watts added.
Wanda Morris, CARP’s VP of Advocacy, said in the release: “There have been great strides in policies affecting women, Indigenous Peoples, and children and youth because they have their own ministers to champion their related issues. It’s about time that seniors, lifetime contributors to this country, have a minister to champion issues that affect them most.”
The Canadian Medical Association also praised the return of a seniors minister, which the CMA had recommended as crucial to the federal government’s efforts to address seniors care issues.
“Having a voice at the Cabinet table is key to addressing seniors’ needs,” said Dr. Laurent Marcoux, president of the CMA. “On behalf of Canada’s doctors and the more than 65,000 Demand a Plan supporters, we welcome Minister Filomena Tassi to her new role.”
“Today, the government has taken a positive step towards improving the lives of seniors, their families and Canadians,” Marcoux added. “We look forward to working with Minister Tassi to ensure that programs and services are developed to address the needs of our aging population.”
Canada’s growing seniors population involves more issues for the minister to deal with than just health care. CARP’s news release noted the organization is looking forward to working with Tassi on initiatives including “a national dementia strategy, national pharmacare, financial security as we age, social inclusion and elder abuse prevention.”
Improving access to housing for seniors is another area raised by the CMA in its 2017 report, “Advancing Inclusion and Quality of Life for Canadian Seniors.”
Tassi will have her work cut out for her in handling the issues facing Canadian seniors. For the country’s seniors, having a cabinet minister dedicated to those issues is a welcome and much-needed move by the federal government.