Delayed OAS ‘aging people into poverty’

This article was published by The Chronicle Herald on March 15th 2012.  To see this article and other related articles on The Chronicle Herald website, please click here

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Making people wait two years longer for Old Age Security is effectively “aging people into poverty,” says the Nova Scotia spokesman for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed Thursday what Canadians got a whiff of in the days before he presented his budget — many of us will have to wait until we’re 67 to qualify for OAS.

That move will leave many Nova Scotians and Canadians at a big monetary disadvantage, said Bill VanGorder, past present of the association and a member of the national advisory committee for the group.

“There are a lot of Nova Scotians who are at or below the poverty line who really need that money,” VanGorder said in an interview shortly after the Harper government announced its budget.

“The real point is that there are real people who depend on that money for years,” he said. “We’re putting off that money for two years for them and that’s worrisome.”

VanGorder said he realizes people need to plan for retirement, but stressed there are many people with lower-paying jobs and health issues who aren’t able to do that.

“It’s going to download the need to help those people to provinces and municipalities,” he said.

Women may be the most adversely affected, he said, citing Statistics Canada figures that show 18 per cent of women living alone over the age of 65 are in poverty.

Michal Cada, who teaches electrical engineering at Dalhousie University, agrees, saying women, especially mothers, should be treated better by Ottawa. In Europe, where Cada is from, some countries allow mothers to retire earlier, he said.

Cada, 61, said the government should not view seniors here identically, especially those who need more help to retire.

“People have different jobs. You can’t judge everybody the same,” said Cada, who won’t be directly affected by the changes, which are to come into force in 2023.

“Some people have heavy labour work and by the age 55 or 60, you just burn,” he said. “You don’t have enough energy to work.