Seniors bullied by Canada and Québec Revenue Agencies?
Can we talk of intimidation or abuse against seniors? This is at least what appears to be the case for more than 1,400,000 seniors age 65 and over in Quebec, including more than a hundred thousand living in residences for elderly people, who find themselves victim of the decision made by Revenue Quebec and Revenue Canada to no longer send them, by mail, the tax forms and guides they need to make their annual income tax reports.
Although all citizens are concerned by these recent measures, there is an issue of society, and discrimination against seniors, that should not be ignored, because the elderly are the ones most severely affected by what one could call an abuse of power.
Software and Internet
Now, both Canada and Quebec Revenue Agencies force seniors to file electronically, which means to buy computer software compatible with government WEB sites and forward their income tax reports online via the Internet.
Very few people aged 70 and over, living in residences for the elderly, have personal computers and are sufficiently familiar with these electronic technologies to meet the new requirements of Revenue Canada and “Revenu Québec.” Otherwise, all these seniors will have to pay someone to do it for them or to go look for these print documents at two different locations; the Post Office for Revenue Canada forms and Caisse Desjardins for Quebec forms. Nothing is easy for seniors who are disabled or are painfully walking around with their walkers.
For senior couples, the situation is even worse because they must join the specific income splitting form which, for federal tax, is not available in post offices. Therefore, these seniors have no choice but to phone Revenue Canada to have that specific form mailed to them. What a hassle now! In the past, these specific forms were included in the regular mailing to couples.
It is estimated that out of 1,400,000 people aged 65 and over in Quebec, and out of 5,000,000 seniors in Canada, between 20% and 25% will have to request the guide and forms from Revenue Canada by phone. One can imagine the number of calls to be made over a period of about 100 days, from February to the end of April. We are talking between 3,000 and 10,000 calls per day. Do you have any idea of the number of times the lines will ring busy at both Revenue Canada and “Revenu Québec” Agencies? This new measure qualified “rationalization” by governments appears abusive, intimidating and discriminatory against seniors. The term “bullying” comes to mind.
In my view it should be denounced and condemned by the Quebec Association for the defence of the rights of retired people, the «Protecteur du citoyen», the Minister responsible for seniors, the FADOQ and any other body to protect the rights of the elderly. This is a situation where the media should also be involved.
Antoine L. Normand,
Résidence Le Monastère,