A Rudyard Griffiths editorial entitled “A Greying Nation”
was published a few weeks ago in The National Post and caused quite a stir amongst CARP members. Griffiths’ thesis is that Canada’s demographic situation will unavoidably lead to colossal and ballooning deficits. Watch for a more moderate and less offensive articulation of his argument in an upcoming issue of Zoomer magazine. We at CARP Advocacy disagreed and here is what a few of us had to say:

Susan Eng, CARP VP of Advocacy sent the following rebuttal letter to the Editor of the Post, which was promptly published

Seniors have paid their way

National Post Published: Saturday, February 14, 2009
Re: A Greying Nation, Rudyard Griffiths, Feb. 11.

There are many legitimate ways to dispute the wisdom of deficit financing to pull us out of our economic death spiral, but blaming ageing is not one of them.

Perpetuating the myth that older Canadians are a drain on the health care system is not only wrong but wrongheaded. You cannot simply draw a straight line projection from current cost estimates. It assumes that nothing can be done to change how health care is delivered and that tomorrow’s 70-year-old is the same as yesterday’s. (I just finished annoying a 77-year-old when I called him at a ski hill for his reaction.)

The simple measure of increasing home care options would reduce the costs of people languishing in acute-care beds unnecessarily. New medical technologies not only prolong life but make that life more healthy and productive.

Characterizing older Canadians as an unproductive burden on the health care and pension systems they actually built to serve as a foil in a specious argument is unhelpful and unwelcome.

Susan Eng, vice-president, advocacy, CARP, A New Vision of Aging for Canada, Toronto.

Dan Braniff, Founder founder of the Common Front for Retirement Security, [CFRS] and Chair of the Georgian Bay Chapter of CARP had the following letter
letter published:

Seniors have paid their way National Post Published: Saturday, February 14, 2009

Older Canadians continue making their contributions to society in their senior years. Holding 80% of the wealth means that they pay their share of taxes at all levels. Seniors have earned the right to be respected. From my experience, their very longevity is reflective of a healthy lifestyle.

Dan Braniff, Collingwood, Ont.

Former CPP Chief Actuary and current Senior Research and Communications Officer at the Federal Superannuates National Association sent the following letter to the editor:

SUBJECT: Greying Nation – Rudyard Griffiths February 11, 2009

National Post’s Rudyard Griffiths points out specifically the increasing costs of pensions and health care to support his view that “the greying of Canada could become a financial crisis”. He urgently needs to be appraised of the triennial actuarial reports on the CPP ad the OAS (encompassing GIS). He would then realize that:

(a) the CPP costs are projected to be met without changes to the 9.9% contribution rate for at least the next 75 years and that

(b) the current costs of OAS/GIS/SPA will represent after 2050 a percentage of GDP lower than currently (after a small temporary increase associated with the aging of the baby boomers)