Question Period: Will Conservatives Stop Scare Tactics & Listen to Budget Officer's Findings on OAS?

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

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has crunched the numbers and says that OAS is to sustainable. The National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation went to the HRSDC minister to make a case for better treatment of poor seniors. Instead it got “lecture that there is a sustainability crises in Old Age Security”.

Will the Conservatives stop trying to scare people by pretending OAS is unsustainable and agree to leave OAS alone, yes or no?

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

Mr. Speaker, if we were to leave the OAS security system alone, there might not be an OAS security or an OAS system for future generations. It is very possible.

Right now there are four workers paying taxes into general revenue for every retiree and OAS gets paid through general review. In the not too distant future, there will only be two taxpayers, two working people for every retiree. That is not sustainable.

Our goal is to protect and preserve OAS for this generation and future generations.

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

Mr. Speaker, here they are threatening seniors with misinformation.

In 2005, the Prime Minister said:

My government will fully preserve the Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and the Canada Pension Plan and all projected future increases to these programs.

 Will the Prime Minister break his promise to Canadians, yes or no?

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

Mr. Speaker, we are keeping that promise. We have promised to protect the old age security system and CPP is well taken care of now. It is now time to take action to protect the old age security system for this generation and future ones.

In fact, the member opposite who just posed the question, said:

Action now is critical – we need a plan in place, we need the structures in place to deal with this dramatic shift in our country’s demographics.

For once, she and I actually agree on something.

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

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot stop talking about taking action regarding the old age security program, but she refuses to provide any further information. In fact, all that we know about her plan is that she intends to make future generations pay for the Conservatives’ fiscal mismanagement. That is all that we know for the time being. The minister has said that we must listen to the experts. Perfect. Well, yesterday, an expert spoke. The Parliamentary Budget Officer found that the program is not under threat in the long term.

Will the Conservatives give us a straight answer? Will the retirement age be increased from 65 to 67?

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

Mr. Speaker, a number of experts have already told us that there will be a really serious problem, perhaps a crisis, in the old age security program if nothing is done. If nothing is done, there will not be enough money to keep the old age security program at its current level. We have heard the opinions of experts including Jack Mintz of the C. D. Howe Institute and a number of actuaries. I accept their opinions and I share them, and that is why we are taking action.

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

Mr. Speaker, it really seems that the minister chooses her experts based on whatever suits her. The one thing I do know is that Canadian families are right to be afraid when it is obvious that this government is not even capable of answering a very simple question. I have received several emails from constituents in Pierrefonds—Dollard who have told me that had the Conservative government spoken publicly about making cuts to old age security, they would undoubtedly not be seated where they are today.