In response

Dear editor:
I would like to respond to David M. Bourgeault’s letter, “Ditch the hype,” from the April 18, 2012 edition of the Times.
David asserted that I was exaggerating the effect, or cost, to individuals under age 54 from the OAS changes announced by the Harper Conservatives. I deny that accusation.
First, I would like to congratulate David on not needing OAS payments to make ends meet. More and more seniors I speak with do need these payments. In retrospect, I should indeed have clarified that not every single Canadian receives OAS when they retire.
Today, every Canadian over 65 years old, who is a legal resident and who has lived in Canada for at least 10 years between their 18th and 65th birthdays, is eligible for OAS payments. Others can qualify, too.
When I said that Canadians under 54 each would lose $22,000 in OAS payments, I was referring to the average, or median, loss of people who receive OAS payments. Some will lose less and others will lose more.
By the time the first of the under-54 crowd retires, it is estimated they will lose just $1,347 because the program is being phased in and only will affect two years of their payments.
However, someone who is 20 years old today will stand to lose $34,404 in payments when they retire. If we take the median loss, that is the total loss of someone who is 37 years old, then the average loss will be $23,371.
To see how much you are likely to lose, please check http://tinyurl.com/howmuchoas for a detailed table by age.
I again would like to congratulate David for not needing OAS, but am fully aware that the vast majority of Canadians do need what the Harper Conservatives call the “cornerstone of Canada’s retirement income system.”
As such, New Democrats will continue to fight their plan to raise the OAS qualifying age to 67 from 65.
(Signed)
John Rafferty, MP,
Thunder Bay-Rainy River