Late to the party


The Conservative party platform for last year’s election contained two references to Old Age Security. One was a tangential reference, noting that seniors could withdraw funds from Tax-Free Savings Accounts without “any clawback of their OAS or GIS payments.” The other reference is a boast that the Harper government “eliminated Old Age Security payments to prisoners.”

News coverage of Old Age Security during the election seems to have been minimal, but in April the Peterborough Examiner reported on a forum with local candidates that included the question, “What would you do about old age security?” The Examiner relayed the following from Conservative incumbent Dean Del Mastro.

The Conservative government removed one million low-income seniors from the federal tax rolls. “The last thing we should be doing is increasing their burden at a time when we see they are burdened enough.” He pointed to top-ups to the pensions of low-income seniors in the 2011 budget…. “We got back into the affordable housing business.” The government made investments in seniors housing. “Progress is being made.” The federal government needs to look at keeping costs for seniors down, such as energy costs.

Perhaps interestingly, Liberal candidate Betsy McGregor countered with the following.

“This has been, if you’ll pardon the analogy, a freight train coming down the tracks that hasn’t been addressed. Right now for every person that retires, there are five people at work to help fund that retirement pension. Within a generation … there are only going to be three people paying for that retired person. It is a crisis in the making, it is a crisis unaddressed by Mr. Harper and Mr. Del Mastro…. We want to make sure that every senior when they combine their GIS and their Old Age Security that they are above the poverty line…. We intend to bring into existence a stranded pension agency that will protect the benefits of those whose companies went bankrupt.”

The official Liberal platform does make reference to future stresses brought about by changing demographics, but of OAS system specifically, the Liberals seemed fairly confident.

Thanks to the work of the Liberal government in the 1990s, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) are on sound financial footing.


Late to the party

  1. noting that seniors could withdraw funds from Tax-Free Savings Accounts without “any clawback of their OAS or GIS payments.” 

    Regressive.  Too bad the media and the Occupy crowd can’t “do their own stunts” (ie think), because I see holes from here to Ft. Lauderdale in the current tax system and senior support programs.   Historically, 98% of Canadians are eligible for OAS, and its projected to stay close to that number until 2030.  We’re paying well-off seniors with sizable investments and property holdings $500 a month for no good reason.

    “It is a crisis in the making, it is a crisis unaddressed by Mr. Harper and Mr. Del Mastro”

    Jeepers, about the only person in Ottawa who *hasn’t* said seniors programs are in crisis is Harper! 

    • We’ve just reintroduced universal child care benefits.  In the cases where a parent has no income and their spouse is wealthy they pay no tax on their UCCB – yes, Margaret Trudeau would be getting family allowance and not be paying tax on it, while a couple where both parents work, one at $35,000 the other at $40,000 would pay tax on that benefit.

      Don’t these well-off seniors pay taxes at least, no matter their circumstances?


      • Actually, don’t  well off pensioners repay part or all of their OAS through the tax system?

        • Seniors get full OAS up to $65k income. Above that OAS is clawed back gradually, fully by somewhere over $100k per person per year.

          OAS is welfare for wealthy retirees. To improve sustainability, I think we should de-index the threshold for clawbacks and direct savings into the GIS, which is targeted at low-income seniors.

      • Mrs. Trudeau would need every penny of it since her husband was such a cheapskate.

        I did read your link, yes, OAS is taxed, so a *fraction* of OAS gets kicked back to government, but they can also draw from TFSA tax free.

        Your argument is, essentially “yabbut some other programs are regressive”.  So what? Two regressive policies do not equal a progressive one.

        I’m supposed to be the bad guy conservative here, and I’m lecturing socialists on social justice and equity.  For you guys, it’s a game; for me, it’s not.

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