To the Editor, re Threats to Old Age Security
The Harper government is crying poor on pensions for seniors while it lavishes 13 billion in tax cuts for big corporations that don’t need the money. What’s wrong with this picture? They can’t afford to staff the EI phone lines so workers can access benefits for which they’ve paid, they can’t afford to maintain meat inspection levels that were instituted after the listeriosis outbreak, they can’t afford the non-taxation of veterans’ disability benefit, they can’t afford to let the ecoENERGY Retrofit program run its course till March, even though less than half of the budgeted funds have been allocated, and they can’t even think about a national childcare, homecare or pharmacare program.
But on January 1, 2012, the corporate tax rate was cut to 15%, right on schedule. It’s hard for a government to cry poor when they are shovelling money out the back door. It’s high time tax expenditures were reviewed like all other program spending. The conservative government of Canada is using the Eurozone crisis as an excuse to inaugurate a spiral of diminishing support for and investment in the programs that people count on. Canadians understand the need to economize and manage shared resources, but a tax cut program that is depleting the common treasury just looks like a cynical and opportunistic attempt to minimize government and shrink public services.
Harper’s plan for the OAS is a way to download cost and responsibility to lower levels of government which will have to pay out more to support seniors who are forced into poverty. Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement are inadequate now. The right way to deal with a looming retirement income crisis is to expand the Canada Pension Plan now to raise incomes for seniors in the future. Income supports for seniors need development, not diminishment.
Elaine MacDonald, president, Cornwall & District Labour Council
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