Talking OAS & Pensions with Brantford Residents

BRANTFORD—On November 16, Irene joined locals and members of the Brantford & District Labour Council to protest the latest changes to the Old Age Security (OAS) program, which places the financial security of seniors at risk.

photo credit: Justin Hoag

Together with dozens of supporters, Irene was joined by Marc Laferriere, the NDP federal candidate of record for Brant, and Brian Van Tilborg, who is the Party’s provincial candidate for Brant.

Canadian citizens born in 1958 or later will have their eligibility to the OAS program raised gradually, from age 65 to age 67. The proposed changes will effectively marginalize the poorest Canadians by reducing their annual income, past the age of retirement, by $12,000. Last year, the government spent $27.2 billion on OAS and $7.9 billion on the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Combined, these two programs comprised 13 per cent of overall government expenses.

A key reason for slashing pension budgets includes concerns to the future sustainability to the program.

The 2011 Actuarial Report reveals that pension budgets will significantly decrease to 2.35 per cent of the GDP in 2060, far passing any savings necessary to keep the program feasible. What is more, the Parliamentary Budget Office reports that the structure and operations of the OAS program is fully sustainable for the future, as it stands currently.

Brantford’s students, youth and seniors alike gathered afterwards at the OAS Town Hall in the Seniors Resource Centre, where Irene spoke on various problems affecting the future of Brantford residents. Issues ranged from a call to initiate a national pharmacare program, to the current economic hardships of Brantford brought on by the fiscal policy changes of the Harper government.

Irene later engaged with locals one-on-one,  speaking in-depth on the implications of inter-generational conflict that comes as a result of the latest changes to the Canadian Pension Program.

photo credit: Justin Hoag

“We can no longer rely on for-profit models to serve the rising cohort of Canada’s aging population,” she said. The downloading of costs from one generation to another, she added, “is conservatives pitting generations against each other.”