October 19th 2012: It was just this past winter, at a conference in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Stephen Harper talked about his plans to slash Old Age Security pensions. Canadians then waited months to see the details of Mr. Harper’s proposal. When his plan was finally tabled in House of Commons, the cuts were even more devastating than anyone imagined.
Eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement would be delayed for two full years—raising the retirement age to sixty-seven, and taking more than $12,000 in retirement income out of the pockets of the average Canadian senior.
Mr. Harper’s plan came as a surprise not just because it was announced in a foreign country in front of an audience of elite insiders, but because the plan flew in the face of a specific campaign commitment he had made just seven months earlier.
During the campaign, Stephen Harper promised Canadians: “We will not cut transfer payments to individuals or to the provinces for essential [programs] like health care, education, and pensions.”
In fact, Mr. Harper’s pledge to keep his hands off seniors’ income was a longstanding promise. And then with his spring budget, Stephen Harper broke his word. Mr. Harper’s decision to cut OAS has proven to be deeply unpopular with Canadian voters – some polls showing that over two thirds of Canadians oppose any reduction in Old Age Security. Seniors who rely on OAS and GIS understand how hard it would be to get by without these programs. Even seniors who aren’t personally affected have spoken up, knowing that the changes are unfair for their children and grandchildren.
Experts say that Mr. Harper’s cuts to OAS and GIS are unnecessary. OAS and GIS are sustainable in the long run. New Democrats believe that after working their whole lives to build this country, seniors should not have to pay for the bad choices of the Conservatives. Everyone deserves to retire with dignity. You can count on us to stand side-by-side with CARP members and all other Canadians concerned about retirement security and oppose Mr. Harper’s reckless cuts. We have practical propositions to improve people’s lives and build a fairer and more prosperous Canada.
The Hon. Tom , PC, MP (Outremont) ,
Leader of the Official Opposition
Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada