Changes to OAS unfairly punish Canadians who need help the most: Hughes

OTTAWA – The government is missing the mark with changes to Old Age Security that will punish those people who need the program the most says New Democrat MP, Carol Hughes.

On the one-year anniversary of the last federal election, Hughes reminded the House that it was New Democrats who ran a campaign to lift seniors out of poverty and wagered the government would never have convinced enough voters to give them a majority if they had explained their plan for OAS to the electorate.

“The Conservatives did not run a campaign that showcased most of the divisive actions they have undertaken in the first year of this parliament,” said Hughes. “And they most certainly did not run on a platform that sought to change the eligibility criteria for Old Age Security.”

The MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing went on to say that Conservative government claims that a gradual increase over many years will soften the blow, does nothing to address the fact that their reasons for changing the age of eligibility are completely wrong.  She scolded the government for suggesting that two extra years work was appropriate especially for those who perform physical labour.

“I am sure for people who have never worked manual labour - never spent a day in a bush camp or a mine - for those people, two extra years doesn’t sound like much – but it is,” said Hughes.

Hughes put tough questions to the government who are claiming the pension supplement is in trouble despite sound reports that indicate it is not.  She also laid bare the claim that Canadians are living longer by pointing out that those most likely to require OAS are not sharing in the longevity enjoyed by their better-off countrymen.

“They ignore the fact that Canadians with shortest life expectancy are the same people who will likely require OAS payments to augment any pension they may have earned,” Hughes said. “These are Canadians who endure long-term unemployment;  have lower proportions of high school and university educations; they come from smaller immigrant populations and larger Aboriginal populations; and  include those Canadians living in rural and remote locations.”

Hughes concluded by asking the government to reverse their decision and give hard-working Canadians some hope for their future retirement.