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.

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