Move follows free bus fares for seniors in Laval
By Robert Frank
City council convened a special meeting, May 1, to turn its water tax exemption for seniors into a straight subsidy.
“The new bylaw provides for a transfer that used to be a water tax refund for senior citizens,” executive committee vice-chairman David de Cotis told The Suburban. “Now it’s just a [direct] grant to senior citizens.
“If more than one resident of a household are over 65-years-old, then only one can claim it,” he said in an interview.
The senior subsidies will be two-tiered, he added.
“There will be a grant of $100, but if they are low-income, the amount will be $200,” de Cotis added.
“Seniors who receive the federal guaranteed income supplement will be eligible for the $200 amount,” he explained.
Laval has long provided a wide range of services to its growing senior population.
One year ago, the city transit authority Société de transport de Laval eliminated bus fares for seniors who reside in Laval, permitting them—and those who must accompany them—to ride for free.
While free bus fare was a fulfillment of Mayor Marc Demers’ election province, the popular water tax subsidy had long pedigree, dating from the era of his predecessor as mayor, Gilles Vaillanourt.
De Cotis explained that the city decided to implement the direct subsidy to seniors after the mayor’s Mouvement lavallois party came to power in the 2013 municipal election. He said that a review of the city’s tax structure revealed that it would be more appropriate fiscal procedure to follow than the water tax exemption that it replaced.
Laval offers a wide range of excellent services to its senior population. Almost none of the municipal activities are available in English, however.
Last year, Mayor Demers’ spokesman François Brochu acknowledged that “a lot remains to be done” and invited members of Laval’s English community to engage in public consultations to help improve the situation.
Laval’s English population is aging more rapidly that its French-speaking counterpart and seniors’ problems here are compounded by the departure of their adult children who had to decamp to find work outside Quebec.
Private organizations like the Laval Alzheimer Society and Hellenic Social Services of Quebec have made heroic efforts to fill the breach. They rely heavily on private contributions, though, hence have nowhere near the resources of government.
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