Harper Waits Until After Last Year’s Election To Drop A Bombshell On Us

 A Commentary by Doug Draper

No wonder so many people I hear from every day tell me that they have had it with politicians.

Take Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper for example.

Prime Mnister Stephen Harper outlines his 'grand plan' for Canadians at World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

This past January 26, Harper used an opportunity thousands of miles away from us, at the World Economic Forum  in Switzerland, to drop a bombshell that could have a profound impact on the Old Age Security funding as millions of Canadians are approaching retirement age.

“Harper’s Grand Plan” read the headline in the following morning’s Globe and Mail above a story that quoted saying that Canada’s demographics (meaning the big bulging numbers of baby boomers now approaching their 65th birthday) pose “a threat to the social programs and services that Canadians cherish.”  What if some of us were to argue that one of the biggest threats to the social programs and services  Canadians cherish is Harper’s government?

This is a government that has given billions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations that have turned around and moved their operations, along with tens-of-thousands of jobs, overseas. And this is a government that says it now plans billions of dollars more in corporate tax cuts. Yet now Harper is telling Canadians who have been paying federal taxes  all of their working lives that they may how have to wait until they are 67 year old (instead of 65 or younger) before they are eligible for a penny of that money for their retirement?

 Yes,  Harper decides to drop this bombshell on us  RIGHT NOW – not before last spring’s federal election when Canadians could have had their say on such a fundamentally vital bread-and-butter issue in the voting booth. And anyone out there who is old enough to vote who is naïve enough to believe that Harper and company didn’t know they were going to do something about retirement benefits before last spring’s election must also be looking forward to the Easter bunny bringing them a basket of eggs this spring.

 Let’s face it folks, if Harper had been honest with the Canadian people and told us before the last election that he was going to he was planning to change the rules when it comes to who and at what time in their lives people would be eligible to receive Old Age Security. Had Harper brought this up then, he may not have won a majority government because it is people in or near retirement who make up the largest percentage of voters.

This is not to say that something doesn’t need to be done about retirement benefits given the disproportionally large number of people approaching retirement compared to the number of people that will be left in the workforce. This is a matter that has been discussed in government and economic circles, and in the media, for many years which is why Harper knew before the last election that his government was going to have to do something but didn’t have enough courage or respect for the Canadian people to say so.

Let’s assume the figures are correct and that the cost of providing OAC will jump from $36.5 billion in 2010 to more than $100 billion by 2030. Is it fair to make everyone wait until they are 67 to be able to collect any of the funds? What about the person who has a low-income job or someone who does heavy manual labour and can’t go on working until they are 67. The Globe and Mail outlined the concerns this January 28 of a 61-year-old woman who has suffered some injuries working in a factory and feels she has to retire at age 65. “You start working at 18 years old,” she was quoted saying, and “you’ve worked this far only to see the goalposts moved away.”

If the age for collecting OAS is raised to 67, how many aging baby boomers are going to decide to go on working rather than retiring at age 60 or 65, and what is that going to mean for young people trying to find a job? Younger people have already been having a hard enough time finding work since the mandatory retirement age was repealed and the economy fell through the floor.  

Why not consider further clawbacks in OAS benefits to people who have the personal means to support their retirement and, dare I say, why not consider making people pay a few extra dollars in taxes each week to support benefits for retirees who need them?

We should be having a discussion as a nation on how we should meet the challenge of assisting growing numbers of retirees, but I am sure we won’t. Harper had a well-known reputation of being a dictator with his own Conservative caucus while he was leading a minority government and now that he has a majority, he can dictate his will on the rest of us with no fear of being defeated by the opposition.

Unfortunately, Harper has more than three years left to lay his ‘grand plans’ on us before the next federal election.

Niagara At Large wants to know what you think about this issue in the comment boxes below. Remember that we only post comments by people who share their first and last names.

11 responses to “Harper Waits Until After Last Year’s Election To Drop A Bombshell On Us

  1. Ooo la la! Big surprise. Mr George W Harper wants to screw the average working stiff. All this with a mandate of @ 40% of the voters who could be bothered to turn out. He has also declared environmental groups “Enemies of Canada” for opposing the XL pipeline. He prorogues parliament. Basically, he’s a dictator with our consent. He and his cronies are pro big business and licking the boots of his contemporaries in the mega corporations. Did Canadians not know this would happen? Maybe they would have had they pulled themselves away from Hockey Night in Canada and their brews long enough.
    Governments tried to mess with Old Age benefits once before. They were fortunate to escape being burned at the stake. The blue hairs of Canada are the ones who are most politically aware and active. This will be akin to poking a hornet’s nest with a stick. Good luck Stevie.

    True also that many manualjobs are too strenuous to work beyond a certain age. Even my job in nursing, at times lifting people weighing 300 or 400 lbs, not to mention the stress involved, would be too much to handle for somenone at 60 let alone 67. It disgusts me to see people having to work literally to their death to put dog food on their table and a roof over their head. I think a fair retirement package for all would be the guaranteed retirement benefits that parliamentarians receive. That would bankrupt the nation in no time.On top of that, they make a great salary considering they only work a few months a year, if you can call it work, to save for their own retirement.

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  2. This is the same man who said that the government wasn’t going to tax income trusts and then on a Friday, (Halloween) our minister of finance announced they would be taxing income trusts. Maybe they thought everyone would be out trick or treating? I don’t understand why he would make the announcements at Davos.

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  3. I have been waiting for this government to bring this issue up. I have worked since I was 14, We do have a home which we would love to leave to our children so we know they will not be living on the street. That’s looking less and less likely. I am looking for work, and we were hoping to limp along until I could collect the Old Age Pension. It will be hard enough to make it to 65, never mind 67. We are the working poor who have managed to keep a roof over our heads, but never had the type of employment which provided a pension. The way companies hire only part-time labour these days, to avoid paying benefits, there will be more an more people in this situation. Every level of government needs to be thinking about this. That includes our municipality, which continues to raise our property taxes, which it looks like we will not be able to pay for the first time in 53 years. THIS is why I consider myself part of the 99%.

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  4. “Social programs” are being targeted. The rationale is that money needs to be saved (scarcity myth). Already some politicians use the phrase derisively: “It’s not a social program…” The words “social program” will soon be burdened with more negative connotations such as “entitlements”, or, worse yet, “socialism”. Meantime, the people who will pay the price are seniors, many of whom will/do desperately need the money.

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  5. What a double standard we have in our Canada,elected MPs get a huge pension after just six years and start collecting right away, we if we live til 65 get a pittance to live on,and get other benefits taxed away, we still pay the outrageous health tax of Father McGuinty.I can think of numerous choice names to call these blood suckers.

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  6. All the more reason to get rid of the GD party system – and stop electing these idiots who have no idea what representing their constituents means – These cowards will not stand up and oppose anything that will affect their pensions.
    Speaking of that they should take a real hard look at the parliamentary pension plans. That’s were some real fat could be removed.

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  7. So, the ubiquitous question remains: When will Canadians wake up?

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  8. Canadians can wake up with the help of a citizen’s advocacy group called Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
    Check out:http://taxpayer.com/campaigns-and-issues
    and
    //taxpayer.com/issues/federal/fed-reform-mp-pensions

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  9. Here is an alternate narrative which would give well-deserved money back to seniors and move Canada’s economy in the right direction at the same time.

    According to the Green Budget Coalition, Preliminary Recommendations For Budget 2012, we could save over $1.39 billion per year by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies (paid for in part by seniors).

    Instead, Canada seems intent on appeasing energy giants such as foreign-owned Sinopec.

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  10. Maybe if the Conservatives stopped spending so much money on fighter jets, corporate tax cuts, bailouts and so forth, there’d be some left to guarantee every Canadian worker a decent pension.

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  11. Gather round kiddies, the man with the bad news is here…
    1. Retirement is a myth invented by the financial industry during the post World War Two boom times. We’re returning to reality now. So no retirement.
    2. Canadians will never wake up, so long as they have their shitty corporate beer, television, smokes, and Dead Tim’s.
    3. Political parties will screw us over by rewarding their friends and backers with our money, regardless of which ideology the party in power follows.

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