From The Advocate, March 2012
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It’s all about choices
The government that’s planning to cut public pensions
is also planning to spend $30 billion on F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Published March, 2012 - Alternatives to delaying OAS were presented in the House of Commons as the NDP put forward a motion calling on the Conservatives to back down from their OAS blunder.
The motion called on the House to reject any Conservative plan to balance the budget on the backs of Canada’s seniors.
Presented by Lysane Blanchette - Lamothe (Pierrefonds-Dollard) it asked the House to both reject increases in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security, and to commit to a strategy to reduce the number of seniors living in poverty.
“We could take practical, affordable steps right now to lift every Canadian senior out of poverty, but instead, Stephen Harper is making the wrong choices and leaving Canadian seniors vulnerable,” said Blanchette - Lamothe.
“By threatening changes to the OAS, this government is pitting one generation against the next. We’ve all worked hard and played by the rules. There’s no reason to bankrupt the next generation of Canadians with Conservative reckless cuts.”
Pensions critic Wayne Marston (Hamilton East – Stoney Creek) added that budget cuts are all about choices - and Stephen Harper could easily choose wiser.
“The Conservatives gave $16 billion in tax cuts to profitable corporations without receiving a single job guarantee. And now, facing a revenue shortfall, they expect Canadian seniors to pay the price,” said Marston.
“They have no problem spending $30 billion on their F-35 boondoggle and another $19 billion for their unpopular prisons agenda, but they can’t spare $540 a month for Canada’s poorest seniors. It’s about time they get their priorities straight,” said Marston.
Seniors Critic Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) added that the evidence just isn’t there to support the Conservative claim that OAS funds are unsustainable.
“Advice commissioned by the Harper government contradicts these very claims. We need a comprehensive strategy. It’s time for the government to back down from this wrong-headed move. It undermines the old age security that this government is supposed to protect,” said Mathyssen.
If the Harper government is dead set on changing Canada’s retirement system, as it seems to be, it should not simply raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security recipients.
“The least harmful impact would be (to increase) the tax back on higher income earners,” said Andrew Jackson, chief economist of the Canadian Labour Congress. Currently only two percent of pensioners have incomes high enough to see all of their OAS clawed back.