IN THE NEWS ~ Seniors Angered Over Talk Of Pension Cuts, NDP MP Says
January 30th, 2012 - 5:33pm
Seniors Angered Over Talk Of Pension Cuts, NDP MP Says
The NDP is reminding Conservatives about the voting power of seniors in a brewing battle against the government over possible cuts to Old Age Security.
NDP caucus chair Peter Julian said the party is ready to fight the government on pensions and other issues over the next few months. He said the government didn't campaign on cutting or changing OAS in the last election, less than a year ago, and that it has to consider public opinion. Julian said seniors in his riding told him over the weekend they'd never vote Conservative again if they cut retirement income.
"For the Conservatives to say, 'we just don't care about public opinion for the next few years,' I think would be a primary mistake. I don't think they're that stupid," Julian said.
"Our job is to make sure that Canadians are aware that their points of view are being represented in the House of Commons," he said.
More seniors and middle-aged Canadians consistently turn out to vote in elections than younger Canadians.
Last week in a speech in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Stephen Harper hinted at possible changes to Old Age Security benefits. The ratio of workers to retired people will decline from four to one to two to one by 2030, leaving fewer people to fund OAS through their taxes.
The brief mention about retirement income in Harper's speech has left opposition parties speculating on what it could mean, although the government has offered reassurances it won't happen any time soon.
"All seniors should rest assured those that are collecting OAS today will continue to collect it without any change. Our focus is on the medium- and the long-term and ensuring the sustainability of the system for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now," Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said Monday.
"For those who are retired today or approaching retirement, they can rest assured there will be no changes that will affect their benefits."
But Van Loan said Canada needs to make changes now or risk an unstable economy in the future.
"If you want to know what the consequences are, you only need to look to Greece," he said.