The recent talk of a slight modification to the Old Age Supplement in Canada has stirred up quite the controversy. I’ve gotten into some pretty intense chats with other bloggers, and with older co-workers about the legitimacy of this debate. To be frank, I can’t believe the negative press that Harper and the boys are getting over this. In my opinion, as a young person who wanted to live in this country for the next 8 decades or so, the current government should be commended for taking this issue on, and making some true sustainable choices going forward!
On the flip side, it appears that the opposition parties are taking a page out of the Conservative’s own playbook and running a myth- and fear-based smear campaign on the issue. Here are a few of the common misconceptions:
1) The pension age is being moved from 65 to 67.
I actually wish this were true. It makes a lot of sense when you look at how long we are living these days, but alas, it is not politically palatable. Due to our increased Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) rates, the pension plan is actually just fine. This is just a complete lie that is being pushed by fear-mongering interest groups. Old Age Supplement IS NOT CPP!
2) Poor seniors will suddenly have no money as a result of this.
I don’t even know where to start with this one… If seniors worked during their lives they should have a decent CPP cheque coming in. I routinely get told, “Well what if they have a mortgage.” Then they shouldn’t have purchased a house they couldn’t pay off before they were 65!!! Common sense people.
3) “We paid for this retirement and now they’re taking it from us.”
No. You Didn’t. CPP gets paid into, the Old Age Supplement just comes out of the yearly budget. You did not pay into this, and no it is not your due simply because you happen to be included in one of the weirdest demographic shifts of all time and you live in a government structure (democracy) that allows you to take advantage of this.
4) “Well, we supported our parents, so now it’s your turn.”
Um, ok. Have you seen a demographics chart lately? There were lots of you, few of them, and most of your parents died “young.” There are lots of you, few of us, and you guys are going to live forever (which is a good thing, but maybe you could work for an extra year to help pay for it?). This doesn’t add up to you retiring at the same age your parents did.
What Happened To Teaching A Man To Fish?
Obviously this is an issue I’m a little bit passionate about, and I guess it is because it strikes one of my most basic beliefs – we should be responsible for ourselves. At what point did it become acceptable to believe the government should just take care of us cradle-to-grave? If you want to retire early, go ahead and retire early, just earn the money, save it, invest it, and then reap the rewards. That’s the beauty of this thing we have called a free market. Instead, we somehow believe that money should be taken out of the economy, taken away from areas that desperately need the funding such as health care, education, and infrastructure, and put it into the pockets of people who decided they needed a large new house at the age of 50?! Why is there not more outrage on this issue? It’s getting crazy to me how little responsibility we all accept for our own financial positions these days. Students want their student loans to disappear, parents believe they shouldn’t have to pay taxes because they have kids, and now people who are about to have a 25-30 year retirement believe they should be supported by the government dollar as well. Then we wonder how Europe got into the mess they are in?!
Ah… I See, Greens Fees Are Climbing These Days
Baby Boomers, I’m pleading with you here. Yes, you sort of helped build this country (ok, so you’re parents actually did, but you guys like to take credit for it, so let’s go with that), and now your children and grandchildren are begging you not to tear it all down in order to pay for your winters in Florida and golf club fees. A recent article in the Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente highlights the fact that seniors actually have the lowest poverty rate (5.9%) of any part of the population. Furthermore, did you know that anyone over 65 gets at least some OAS money, even if they earn $110,000 already?! Why is giving people with an income that is double the median income for all Canadians a priority? The ONLY reason this has not been addressed is because of demographics, and the fact that Boomers vote in much higher percentages. Logically it makes absolutely no sense.
You Want This To Be Your Legacy?
Please help us here guys. Maybe we can keep the guaranteed income supplement GIS in order to make sure that seniors don’t have to live in poverty (taking away that whole ridiculous argument) and the rest of you can actually just forego the OAS all together? If you are already earning more with your CPP and savings (yes savings, the part of our retirement that is supposed to be our own responsibility) than the median income in Canada, maybe you don’t need a large handout from the government, and maybe you don’t need to collect it for 20-30 years after your retire? Our roads are crumbling, our education system is taking a beating, our medical care is seemingly always on the brink, and as of right now our unemployment rates are steadily climbing (and this is before Europe comes crashing down), but you honestly believe that topping up your retirement should be a priority? Come on guys, you taught us better than to be that selfish.