Editor, The Times:
Are you prepared to give up $13,000 during your golden years? MP Cathy McLeod and Prime Minister Stephen Harper think you are. That’s what the average Canadian will have to give up thanks to the federal budget introduced by the Conservative Party the week before last.
The budget cuts retirement benefits by raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement from 65 to 67 years, forcing Canadians to postpone their retirement for two years. For low-income seniors it’s even worse. They stand to lose up to $30,000, which could hike seniors’ poverty by up third.
It’s a massive hit to the least well off. It’s mean-spirited and it’s wrong.
The Conservatives offered zero financial analysis to justify the cut because there is none. The OECD, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and other leading experts have all confirmed that Canada does not face a pension crisis.
The Conservatives are also using the budget to make deep ideological cuts. They are cutting $90 million dollars from Environment Canada, further gutting protection for the environment when we should be strengthening it. They are cutting $166 million from Aboriginal Affairs, reducing funding for the fastest growing and most impoverished group in the country.
How skewed are these priorities? Take a look at what the government is not cutting: polls, advertising, bigger jails and stealth fighters.
Canadians should be asking Stephen Harper and Cathy McLeod how they can justify such a small-minded Canada.
Bob Rae, Leader
Liberal Party of Canada