Tories clear as mud on OAS plans

This past week in Ottawa was a busy one, with continued uncertainty surrounding Harper’s plans to change Old Age Security (OAS), a key vote on the long-gun registry, and a meeting with my fellow New Democrat MPs from Northern Ontario to discuss the new riding redistribution scheme that’s coming to Ontario in time for the next federal election in 2015.
To say that the Harper government is sending out mixed messages about its plans to reduce, cut, or raise the qualifying age for OAS would be an understatement. Recall that Harper first slipped his plans to overhaul our retirement income system into a speech to foreign bankers in Switzerland, then had his staff clarify that the plan would “probably” just involve OAS and not the Canada Pension Plan.
He then said he “may” introduce changes to the program, such as forcing us to work two years longer to collect our payments, when asked to clarify his position.
Clear as mud these guys are.
My NDP colleagues and I have decided to not wait for the axe to come down on our retirement savings before moving to protect these cherished programs. We’ve opposed Harper’s plan to roll the dice with his new pension plan in the stock market and we want to protect the OAS, which only goes to the poorest seniors in Canada.
Instead of Harper’s risky and irresponsible retirement scheme, New Democrats favour increasing both our individual contributions and entitlements for the CPP—still the most stable, well-funded, and most effective pension plan in the entire world.
If you are interested in learning more about the retirement security issue and NDP proposals, we have launched two campaign sites recently–www.ndp.ca/retirement and www.ndp.ca/oas
Also last week was the second-to-last vote on Bill C-19, the bill that will end the long-gun registry. On this vote, I again supported C-19.
A final vote now is set to occur when the government gets around to having two full days of debate on the final version of the bill.
Following those two days of debate, likely to occur this week, a final vote will be held at third reading to ensure its passage and send C-19 to the Senate, where it will receive Royal Ascent and become law, in all likelihood, sometime this spring.
I, for one, will be happy to get the final vote out of the way since I believe there are far more important issues for Parliament to focus on–job creation and pension protection to name two.
Finally, my NDP colleagues from Northern Ontario—all seven of us—also met last week to review the process by which Elections Canada eventually will redistribute ridings in Ontario before the next election.
Late last year, the Harper government passed a bill that will give Ontario another 13 seats in time for the next federal election. As a result, Elections Canada will use a complex formula—based on regional population patterns and geography—to determine where the new seats will be located.
While it’s true most of the population growth in Ontario has occurred in the southern portion of the province, northern NDP MPs agreed to stand together to oppose the loss of seats from our region.
We believe our northern voice needs to be heard loud and clear in Ottawa, and we will not stand idly by if someone tries to diminish it.

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