CARP Letter to the Editor re: Number of Seniors in Poverty Soars

CARP responded to an article published by the Globe and Mail on November 25th 2010: Number of seniors living in poverty soars nearly 25% . Below is the copy of the letter CARP sent the Globe and Mail Editor:

The 25% increase in poverty among Canadians 65-plus is no surprise. That despite being warned, governments have not acted to prevent it is the real story. The dramatic decline in seniors’ poverty rates over the last 20 years is largely attributed to the CPP, OAS and GIS. But the CPP has “matured” – retirees have just started receiving their full entitlements after 40 years in the workforce – so no more improvements from this source. OAS and GIS have not kept pace with the true increase in cost of living – the indexing formula excludes some food and energy costs.

The differential impact on women is also not news. In and out of the work force with child rearing and caring for their parents or spouses, the women now over 65 had lower career earnings and more likely, no workplace pension. Instead of helping, government rules actually exacerbate the problem. Applying late for OAS, GIS or CPP, limits you to11 months in retroactive payments – of your own money. Eighteen percent of women over 65 who live alone live in poverty. It didn’t help that the OAS spouse allowance for those aged 60-64 was not available to them.

Where’s the money to increase OAS and GIS to come from? The $2 billion saved when the Afghan mission ends, one or two jet fighters and their maintenance contracts, fundamental restructuring of health care delivery– take your pick. But the ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. Thanks for the story.

Keywords: seniors, poverty