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Liberals tax credit for seniors won’t go a long way, says contractor

By Nicole Kleinsteuber

With the provincial election just around the corner, Liberal MP hopeful Dalton McGuinty is promising an annual tax credit up to $1,500 to help seniors renovate their homes.

The Liberal’s plan is to create accessible spaces for seniors by meeting health care needs and allowing them to stay at home.

The tax credit can be used for renovations such as a new wheelchair ramp, chair lift to the second floor or a walk-in shower to prevent falls.

The details of how the program would work were not readily available.

“$1,500 doesn’t go a long way when it comes to installing wheelchair ramps and chairlifts,” said Bill Hyndman owner of Hyndman Contracting Ltd. in Belleville.  “My father had a 15-foot wheelchair ramp built on the front of his house and it cost $5,600.  His chairlift cost $7,800.”

Hyndman said each construction job is assessed individually and seniors looking to transform their homes have to take permit costs into account as well.

“Depending on the size of ramp you need permits can cost anywhere up to $150,” said Hyndman.  “It also depends on municipality you live in.”

Edward Douglas, a veteran who lives in Picton, agreed home renovations could be costly.  He said he’s relieved Veteran’s Affairs helped pay for the installation of his nine foot wheelchair ramp and a seniors step at the rear of his house.

“It was rather expensive,” said Douglas.  “My ramp and steps cost almost $3,000.”

Douglas said he thinks the tax credit for renovations is a great idea.

“Every little bit helps,” said Douglas.

Rita Cowan of Cherry Valley said the tax credit could be useful for seniors needing upgrades to their home for health and safety reasons.

Cowan recently had a walk-in shower installed in her bathroom.  She said it cost $3000.

“The shower is great for older people like myself because you’re not in danger of falling,” said Cowan.