OAS CHANGES COULD COST B.C. SENIORS NEARLY $1 BILLION
February 5th, 2012
New Democrat Seniors Critic Challenges B.C. Liberals to Speak Against Harper’s Plan
VICTORIA – The Liberal government needs to speak out about possible changes to the Old Age Security (OAS) system that could cost B.C. seniors nearly a billion dollars a year, say the New Democrats.
In Davos last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed increasing the minimum age to qualify for OAS to 67. If the changes took effect in 2015, it would cost 114,000 British Columbians at least $6,500 annually – and up to $12,000 annually for seniors accessing the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
“Premier Clark should be standing up for seniors against this costly attack by the federal Conservatives,” said New Democrat seniors critic Katrine Conroy.
“We’re a province with a significant retired population and the government should be standing up for the needs of those retirees. What we’re seeing is the latest example of a Liberal government more interested in maintaining chummy relationships with Ottawa instead of dealing with issues that impact British Columbians.”
Conroy met Friday with the Executive of the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations and assured them that she wouldn’t let the issue slide.
A research paper released Thursday showed that increasing the age for Old Age Security would drive seniors into poverty, noting that OAS accounts for a quarter of the annual income of the average Canadian senior.
In 2015, there will be an estimated 114,300 seniors aged 65 or 66. Of those, about 40,000 are expected to be receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement payments.
“This could have a profound impact on seniors in the province and their spending power in the B.C. economy,” said Conroy. “And it would mean that B.C. taxpayers would have to fill in the gaps, as seniors would be forced to rely on provincially funded social services.
“It’s time for Premier Clark to stand up and demand that Ottawa back away from this attack on seniors,” said Conroy. “She needs to put B.C. seniors ahead of her friends in Ottawa.”
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe that the health needs of B.C. seniors must be a priority.