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BC Federation of Retired Union

From The Advocate, March 2012

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Mr. Harper goes to Davos

In a foreign land, Harper springs an HST-scale surprise on struggling Canadian seniors


Published March, 2012 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was a strange brew.

On one hand, he told the political and business elite who gathered at the annual meeting that Canada’s economy had outperformed the world’s economic powerhouses. He said our banks were the best there is. He even bragged that the Canada Pension Plan was in great shape, actuarially sound, and fully funded.

On the other hand, he warned that Canada’s poorest seniors would have to get by with less at some undefined time in the future. With the economy humming Harper’s tune, Old Age Security (OAS) is suddenly unsustainable. Old folks will have to work longer, if they can, or go on welfare if they can’t.

Mr. Harper told the well-heeled crowd that Canada’s public pension system needs a serious overhaul to remain financially sustainable as the population ages. He later confirmed that his government is considering raising the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67. “Absolutely, it’s being considered,” he said.

He did not mention in his speech that Canada already spends far less on public pensions than the average of other nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Like the massive HST tax shift the B.C. Liberals sprung on us after the provincial election, Harper’s plan to attack the already tenuous income security of retired Canadians was not mentioned during the recent federal election.

In this edition of The Advocate, we examine the consequences for seniors, challenge the claim that OAS is not sustainable, and offer alternatives to improve income security for retired workers.


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