Sunday, April 1, 2012

Star Readers' Reactions To OAS Changes

In an earlier post I expressed both my bewilderment and disappointment at the muted 'person-in-the-street' reactions to the the Harper regime's change to Old Age Security that will require people currently under the age of 54 to wait until age 67 to begin receiving their benefits. That I may have been premature in expressing that bewilderment is reflected in some letters in this morning's Toronto Star, which I am taking the liberty of reproducing below. As always, Star readers' messages are both pointed and perspicacious.

Re: Tories add years to working lives, March 30

I “planned” for my retirement. I have been working since I was 17. That was until I became permanently disabled and unable to work five years ago. I receive a Canada Pension Plan Disability pension, which makes up 1/3 of my income, and long-term disability, which makes up 2/3 of my income. As a result of my disability, my income and benefits decreased to about 40 per cent of my pre-disability income.

I now spend thousands of dollars a year on medication and health-care providers delisted by the provincial Liberal government. I can no longer afford to live independently; I had to move in with my parents.

Tell me Mr. Harper, since my long-term disability benefits cease in 13 years at age 65 and my CPP-D decreases, how will I financially survive until the age of 67 when you are taking away OAS and GIS benefits for those two years?

Dawn Wylie, Mississauga

Increasing the eligibility for old age benefits from 65 to 67 is cruel at best. Most Canadians are living on low-wage jobs with no pension plans and struggle to pay the bills, let alone being able to contribute to RRSPs. Making Canadians work longer when some may be in dangerous jobs or have health issues is unfair.

As NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said, Stephen Harper informed Canadians last June that the Conservatives would not touch the pensions of Canadians and they misled us all. Although CPP was not touched, most Canadians rely on the OAS to top up the measly $12,000 a year the CPP pays out.

Jim Flaherty should have tackled the MPPs’ platinum-plated pension plan first and then looked at the OAS. Better yet, MPPs should live on the equivalent of CPP for a month to better understand the struggles of average Canadians.

Avery Thurman, Oshawa

Many Canadians do not understand what the change to the OAS means. It does not affect me now as I am too old but I understand what it means to people on a low income. Many single women and other Canadians who have no company pension to supplement the old age pension depend on the OAS. To take money away from this group of seniors is like taking from the poor. Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty should be ashamed. This change is despicable and an eye-opener. It shows me finally what Harper stands for and who he really is.

Elizabeth Richardson, Toronto

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