Question Period: Why Won't Conservatives be Honest About OAS?

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  

    Mr. Speaker, the government still cannot give seniors and families a straight answer when it comes to old age security. First, it was not raising the retirement age; now it is. Then it was happening in 2020; now it is not.

    A quarter of a million Canadians will have to work two extra years to pay for this year's $3 billion Conservative corporate tax handout. Seniors and families are worried about their retirement. They deserve answers.

    Is the government raising the OAS from age 65 to age 67, yes or no?

 Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):  

    Mr. Speaker, one thing Canadians deserve is the truth and the truth is exactly what the Prime Minister and I have been saying for some time now.

     As it stands, the current OAS system is not sustainable into the future. We do have to make changes so that future generations can still expect to get some OAS. In doing that, we will protect and preserve the benefits that current Canadian retirees are receiving, and those who are near retirement will receive. However, we must take action. It is the responsible thing to do for all Canadians.

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  

    Mr. Speaker, OAS is sustainable in the long term. This is not about sustainability. It is about a Prime Minister choosing to give handouts to his CEO friends while slashing retirement security for seniors.

    I have been travelling across the country talking to Canadians and they are telling me that they want answers from the government. However, all Conservatives give them is double-talk and manufactured crises. And you raising the OAS from age 65 to age 67 is despicable. Tell us, yes or no?

 The Speaker:

    Order, please. I will just remind colleagues to address their comments through the Chair, not directly at other members.

    The hon. Minister of Human Resources.

 

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC): 

    Mr. Speaker, we too have been criss-crossing the country. The difference is that we are listening to Canadians, not talking to them. Canadians are telling us that they recognize that the aging of the baby boomers is going to have a huge impact. They recognize all the good things that we have been doing to help seniors, including increasing the GIS, increasing the exemption and providing pension splitting.

    Here is what else they told us: “We're are heading towards trouble that cannot be staved off unless the OAS is reformed.” Who said that? Hilary Sinclair of the Canadian University Press. Hilary Sinclair gets it.

[Translation]

Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP):  

    Mr. Speaker, the old age security program is sustainable in the long term. Therefore, the minister should stop telling us that changes are absolutely necessary. It is not true. Rather, it is a choice that the Conservatives are making, and it is a very bad choice.

    The government keeps repeating that it is going to make changes to old age security, but what changes? It may be that this will not happen until 2020, but Canadians are worried just the same. They want to plan for their retirement, but they still do not have any information.

    Will Canadians aged 57 or less have to wait until they reach the age of 67 to retire, yes or no?

    Some hon. members: Yes or no?

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):

     Mr. Speaker, our government has acted to protect and help our seniors, and we will continue to do so by making changes to the OAS program.

    Let us look at some examples. We are the ones who created the position of Minister of State for Seniors and established the National Seniors Council to represent seniors. We are the ones who increased the age credit, not once but twice. We are the ones who introduced the GIS exemption, and we are also the ones who increased it. We took these initiatives for the benefit of our seniors.

Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP): 

    Mr. Speaker, there is still no information being provided. These answers will definitely not help Canadians better plan for their retirement. Unfortunately, it is not just a matter of planning, because not everyone can afford to plan for his or her retirement. The old age security program is particularly important for those who become unemployed before retirement age and have a hard time finding another job, for those who do physical work and whose bodies are tired, and for those who were not able to save enough for their retirement. These people deserve to know whether the government intends to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67.