Pension hikes 'an insult,' senior says

Originally published in the Oceanside Star on August 12th, 2010. To go to the Oceanside Star please click here

Two years ago wheel bearings cost $80. Now they’re $212, and the hourly labour rate has gone from $40 to $60.

“Everything is up, up, up,” he says. “There’s super-inflation in this country.”

The federal government is playing games with pensioners by using a shopping cart to establish the consumer price index, putting some things in the cart but not necessarily the things most people buy, he says. “It’s an insult,” especially when Ottawa then turns around and proposes spending $16 billion on new fighter jets.

One thing Radelet knows for certain is he now has less spending money than he used to.

He used to be able to save a little money, he says, but now he’s having to draw on some of his other resources.

“At least I have other things to fall back on,” he says, “but others don’t have as much.”

Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), says Radelet is bang on.

“Number one: the overall amount is not enough,” she says. “Number two: the amount of the increase in base benefits should keep pace with the standard of living, not the cost of living.”

The government’s shopping cart, she says, actually includes Radelet’s flour but it doesn’t include fresh fruits and vegetables, gasoline and natural gas and home heating oil.

However, Eng says, CARP doesn’t want to “get into the minutiae.”

If the point of the combined plans is to keep retired people out of abject poverty, she says, then they’re failing to do that.

Under the plans, she says, a typical senior might get $18,000 a year.

“Can you really live on that?” she asks. “Imagine trying to make ends meet living in a big city like Vancouver or Toronto.

“This is a real trial for the people who are trying to have a happy retirement.”

She agrees with Radelet that there has been an erosion of spending power among retired people.

“It’s all too true,” she says. “It’s simple arithmetic.”

“Poverty and old age” is the focus this year of CARP’s federal pre-budget submissions to Parliamentary committees. Those consultations begin this week.

© The Oceanside Star

Keywords: pension reform