Stephen Harper's announcement to raise the age for Old Age Security (OAS) from age 65 to 67 is a giant step backwards.
The Conservative government never announced such a proposal during the May election. It is indeed revealing that Harper goes to Davos, Switzerland to tell Canadians about his plans to change the eligibility age for the OAS.
Harper used the European economic crisis as his backdrop in hopes that Canadians will be lured into thinking that our retirement savings programs are somehow a danger to the economy.
Don't be fooled.
Recent reports for the OAS and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) tell us that these public programs are secure well into the future. The OAS is funded through Canadian tax dollars and covers almost every Canadian resident. The program has been extremely effective in reducing poverty among seniors from a shameful high of 18% in 1980 to the current level of 5%.
Hiking up the age for OAS from 65 to 67 will have the greatest hardship on seniors with low incomes or unable to work due to poor health or disability.
Harper is using scare tactics saying that the number Canadian seniors will double by 2030. While this is true, what he does not say is that the economy will also grow over the next 20 years and as a percentage of GDP, the OAS cost to Canadians will only increase from 2.4% to 3.2%. A modest price to pay to ensure dignity for seniors.
The CPP is funded with employer and employee contributions and publicly administered by the federal government. The recent actuarial valuation for the CPP also reports that the plan is securely funded well into the future.
Harper's vision for Canadians is a grim one. His government stands by, (or sometimes even colludes) as corporations cut our wages and pensions. His government does nothing to stop the slide toward precarious jobs. After working a lifetime in poorly paid jobs without a decent employer pension plan, Canadians, in Harper's vision, can just keep on working.
What can you do?
Tell your federal Member of Parliament that you do not support the hiking up the age for OAS from 65 to 67. And you support the expansion of the CPP/ QPP to provide a secure income for all Canadians.