Hours after Canadians were blindsided by Prime Minister Harper’s announced changes to Old Age Security on January 25th 2012, CARP was on the front lines calling on the federal government to keep their hands off OAS. In March, 2012 CARP was in Ottawa to voice opposition at a pre-budget consultation and seized the opportunity to show that OAS is sustainable for the long-run and that Canada measures favourably to many other countries with aging populations and fiscal constraints. In fact, Canada spends a significantly smaller portion of its GDP on public pensions than the OECD average and has a notably younger population than most other OECD nations. That following October, at the CARP annual general meeting, Official Opposition Leader, Thomas Mulcair announced that the federal NDP supported CARP’s call for a return to OAS eligibility at age 65.
CARP kept up the pressure in Ottawa and across Canada and CARP members resoundingly rejected the changes to OAS in poll after poll and the voting intentions of CARP members switched from a majority Conservative and bounced between the NDP and Liberals as favourites leading into the election cycle. In October, 2104 CARP invited new Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau to present the keynote speech at their annual general meeting, and Mr. Trudeau echoed CARP members’ wishes and formally announced that if elected, the Liberal party would restore OAS eligibility to age 65. Mr. Trudeau was back at CARP headquarters for a nationally televised campaign town hall meeting with members in 2015, shortly before the election and recommitted his party to OAS restoration.
Budget 2016 – OAS Restored to Age 65!
CARP members were pleased to lean that after four years of consistent pressure, the new government has reversed Prime Minister Harper’s legislation and returned eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement back to age 65.
There were two other meaningful measures for seniors included in the 2016 federal budget, including an increase in the GIS benefit of up to $947 for the lowest income single senior and a pledge of $200 million for seniors housing. But CARP was disappointed that on many other issues, seniors were given promises for the future rather than immediate action from the new government.
CARP was pleased to learn that the new government has also broken with the previous government’s refusal to address the need for enhancements to the Canadian Pension Plan. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has promised to put CPP on the agenda for upcoming consultations with provincial finance ministers, something that previous federal ministers Jim Flaherty and Joe Oliver had refused to add to the agenda.
“Canada is facing a looming retirement security crisis. With the percentage of Canadians over 65 projected to grow dramatically, fewer Canadians having access to workplace pensions and those pensions themselves becoming less valuable, urgent action is needed to improve funded retirement benefits for Canadians.” Wanda Morris, CARP VP, Advocacy