House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

We have heard a great deal today about the OAS, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House that just this past June, we all made a commitment to lift every senior out of poverty. To date, the government has taken no action on that NDP motion and has demonstrated complete disregard for seniors living in poverty in Canada. The Conservatives have touted tax breaks and income splitting but neither of those helps those in this country living in or near the poverty line. Tax breaks do not help the poor because their incomes are too low to benefit from any tax break.

Now the government is shifting gears. Instead of ignoring the poor, it is making suggestions that the poor should be the ones to pay for the financial mismanagement of the Conservative government. By suggesting cuts or other such changes to the OAS, the government is chipping away at the security of seniors in this country. Asking the poor to pay while giving tax breaks to the rich is despicable, unacceptable and unfathomable. The rumblings of changes to the OAS show complete disregard for the motion passed unanimously in this House last June. The government is well aware that the OAS and GIS are critical to keeping seniors above the poverty line. The government's own responses to the petitions calling on the Conservatives to end seniors' poverty trumpet how successful the OAS and GIS have been in reducing the levels of poverty among our seniors. I do not understand why the Conservatives are trying to create more challenges. Clearly, they do not even believe their own rhetoric.

Over the past couple of weeks, as the NDP seniors critic I have received many emails and letters from seniors across the country reacting to the Prime Minister's suggestion that there may be changes to old age security. People are outraged and insulted, but most of all they are terrified of what the future may hold.

I have heard from seniors living at the poverty line, who are wondering how on earth they will make their monthly payments and afford to buy food if their OAS is cut. Seniors have shared their fear that they may have to return to work but they have no idea what kind of job they would do. They have no skills for some of the jobs out there.

I heard from Nortel workers who have not only lost their jobs but also lost significant portions of their pensions and are relying on the OAS when they turn 65 just to make ends meet.

People wrote to me concerned about how this would impact first nations who already live in some of the worst living conditions in Canada. How can they be expected to take yet another hit?

I heard from seniors who have been forced to sell their homes because they do not have the money to keep them. They cannot keep their homes because of the reality of retirement.

Our seniors are worried that any changes to the OAS would push them over the edge into poverty.

I heard from one senior who was actually forced to move to the country, far from friends and neighbours, because he could not afford to live in the city on his meagre pension. For rural seniors, finding work is not an option. Unemployment is high and competition is fierce for the few available jobs, which are often seasonal. Services for seniors are reduced in rural areas, further adding to the burden of making ends meet. Changes to the OAS would be doubly detrimental to them.

People have carefully tried to plan for retirement at age 65. Making changes to the GIS now would have a significant and negative impact on their lives.

Many of those with health problems are already struggling to keep working until they reach age 65. If the government plans to raise the age of receipt of OAS to 67, this would be a significant burden, in particular for those with little CPP or other pension savings and who are forced to rely on OAS and GIS. The people who rely on OAS are for the most part those who have struggled their whole lives. The reason they have not saved is that there is no money to save: every penny has been spent on the necessities of life, in raising kids and getting by.

I had people point out in no uncertain terms that changes to the OAS should have been brought up during the election.

What is proposed by the government is a future that is bleak for retirees. How can the Conservatives pretend, just eight months after the last election, that they were taken by surprise by this so-called crisis in the funding of OAS? The scramble that followed the announcement at Davos and the suggestion that changes will be a few years down the road and seniors now will not be affected is a tactic that will divide future and current seniors.

I also have letters from younger people in their forties and fifties who are concerned about what access to OAS they may have when they are ready to retire. They are afraid for their retirement and they see that the government is looking to divide Canadians.

The politics of division will not work this time. People have written to me and have pointed out the economic benefit of the OAS to all of society. Seniors on OAS spend all of their money in their neighbourhoods. That is money we invested in our economy. OAS is not a burden on the economy. It is an investment in our economy.

A constituent in my riding of London—Fanshawe has called the government and its actions an abusive act on the average working person. I could not agree more.

I wish to be very clear. The money for OAS is readily available. We have the money to lift seniors out of poverty in the present and the money to address additional expenses the government will face in the future as our population continues to age.

Instead of investing in Canada, the Conservatives chose to saddle the treasury and Canadians with corporation tax giveaways that will not create and have not created a single new job.

Seniors represent one of the fastest growing populations in Canada today. The number of seniors in Canada is projected to increase from about 4.2 million to 9.8 million from 2005 to 2036. With so many more people retiring in the years to come, we need to have the social safety net in place now to avoid dramatic increases in the rate of poverty in the future.

The current government is clearly making the wrong decisions regarding how to care for the increased number of seniors in 2036 and its plan falls far short of what we really need.

We need investment in home care and in pharmacare, increased access to resources, appropriate and affordable housing and investment in geriatric studies. Investment in our communities and in our families are essential.

Our actions now will have an impact on how we treat our seniors in the future. If we fail to invest and make plans for and aging population, it is our own retirement that will be in jeopardy. Future seniors will not have the choice to age in their homes and will not have access to the care that they need. The concerns for the future are very real.

Today, only 38.5% of Canadian workers have workplace pensions and nearly one-third have no retirement savings at all. More than 3.5 million Canadians are not saving enough in RRSPs for what used to be called their “golden years” and 75% of workers are not even participating in a registered pension plan.

Clearly, the notion that retirement savings can adequately account for retirement through purchases of RRSPs does not work and urgent government action is needed.

It should further be noted that private retirement savings are concentrated in a small percentage of families. According to Statistics Canada, 25% of families hold 84% of these assets, while three out of ten families have no private pensions at all.

In total, more than a quarter of million seniors live below the poverty line and, since the mid-1990s, incomes of seniors have reached a ceiling. Now there is a significant gap. Seniors' incomes have increased by about $4,100 while other Canadian households' incomes increased by $9,000. The situation is even more pronounced among seniors living alone.

Seniors have worked hard all their lives, have played by the rules and now they simply want access to the programs and services that their hard-earned tax dollars helped to build. They saved that money, made that money available and now they demand that it be made available to them in their time of need.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Conservative

Chungsen Leung Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism

Mr. Speaker, our government has been clear that we support seniors. We introduced pension income splitting and the new tax free savings account. In my riding, good friends, like Mr. Bob Weeks, spent an entire lifetime building his own house.

As I said, there are four pillars of a retirement income: one, the principal house; two, the CPP; three, the RRSP; and four, the OAS.

Why did member vote against the GIS increase and the funding for low-income seniors' housing?

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will point out a number of issues. Pension splitting is only good for a couple with reasonable assets. If one is single, there is no one to split with. Tax benefits are non-refundable. It makes absolutely no sense to have them because they mean nothing to those with incomes so low that they cannot get the benefits.

In terms of the OAS and the question regarding why we rejected the budget, of course we rejected the budget and we will continue to reject budgets that give $60 billion to the most profitable corporations in this country while cutting and slashing the benefits that the people of this country have paid for, have earned and deserve.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her speech and her compassion. According to experts, the problems being put forth by the government are more apparent than real. The birthrate was three children per woman in the 1950s. It is now about 1.5 children, which is actually less than the population replacement rate of 2.1 babies per woman in the absence of immigration. These facts are already included in pension system projections.

Maintaining pension systems is not so much a matter of actuarial estimates but rather a matter of governments having the political will to keep public pensions alive and well.

I would ask the hon. member if she would outlay what she thinks are the critical questions that should be asked in a national debate on pensions and whether raising the age of eligibility for OAS from age 65 to age 67 is a fair and equitable solution.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, my esteemed colleague raises some quite important issues in terms of some of the actuarial estimates in regard to what is available and what is not. She is correct when she says that pension plans have built in the reality of this surge in the number of seniors.

We also know that 2.4% of our GDP right now is for OAS so our seniors can live in dignity. By 2030, it is estimated that will rise to a peak of about 3.2% and then will decline. Essentially, what will happen is that the government will tell everyone that it cannot afford to give them a proper retirement and will reduce the amount they receive. Then, in 2030, there will be a resurgence in terms of government funding. However, we can bet that there will not be a resurgence in the amount given to seniors in terms of OAS. In fact, by 2030 and beyond, they will continue to live in poverty and continue to be ignored.

Right now, 250,000 seniors in the most affluent country in the world are living in penury. That is a disgrace. That is what this debate is about.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to defend the seniors in my riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and in Canada. I would also like to thank the hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard for introducing this motion, which is very important to me, today.

I would like to start by reading the motion because the government has clearly stated that it is going to reject it. I would like to explain to my fellow citizens what the Conservatives are going to reject today.

That this House reject calls by the Prime Minister to balance the Conservative deficit on the backs of Canada’s seniors by means such as raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and call on the government to make the reduction and eventual elimination of seniors’ poverty a cornerstone of the next budget.

It seems that the Conservatives want to balance the deficit on the backs of Canadian seniors and that the age of eligibility for old age security will be increased from 65 to 67, as we have heard. The government will not consider the reduction and elimination of seniors' poverty in its next budget and will allow the threat of poverty to hang over Canada's seniors.

On Monday—three days ago—I was in my riding because a round table on seniors was being held. The Notre-Dame-de-Grâce community council called upon the public to help resolve the problems faced by seniors. The main issue was poverty. There are three organizations in my riding that take care of seniors: the Table de concertation aînés de Lachine, the Table de concertation pour les besoins des aînés de l’Ouest-de-l’Île and the Conseil des aînés et des aînées de N.D.G. They are all concerned about the same thing: poverty.

Their action plan involves improving transportation for seniors. Seniors want more affordable transportation since they do not have the means to pay to take the bus. The action plan also involves making seniors aware of existing organizations and services that can provide them with financial assistance. Once again, we see that seniors are having difficulty making ends meet. This is the Table de concertation aînés de Lachine's action plan. Rather than taking the time to read the whole thing, I will simply say that all the reports and mission statements of the consultation committees for seniors in my riding talk about poverty.

Today, we are asking the government to take this into consideration and to help the seniors in our ridings. It is not right to prevent people who worked hard their whole lives from living in dignity.

There were about 20 seniors and 20 observers at the round table I attended on Monday, and they were all scared. The government keeps saying that we are trying to scare the public. On Monday, my constituents did not know that we were going to have this opposition day today. It was not the opposition that was scaring them; it was the government's proposal. To tell older people that their old age pension is going to be delayed by two years, that is serious and very negative.

The Montreal Health and Social Services Agency has released a number of statistics on this recently. For instance, the number of seniors living below the poverty line is proportionally higher in Montreal than anywhere else in Canada: 36% of seniors live below the poverty line, compared to the Canadian average of 19%. That is almost double. Furthermore, 48% of female seniors without a spouse tend to have a low income. The use of food banks by people over 60 has doubled since 1995.

People come to my office and ask me how I can help them. All I can say to them is that, unfortunately, the government simply dismisses any motions that could help seniors in a tangible way, like the one we are presenting today.

I repeat: 48% of female seniors without a spouse tend to have a low income. As we know, most women over 55 spent most of their lives at home, raising children. Their husbands were the bread winners. So they have less income. More women than men have a low income, because they did not contribute to CPP, a private savings plan or an RRSP, or they receive nothing from former employers.

They are expecting the government to thank them for founding our society, for having children and for building our communities. Instead, they are abandoned at retirement age. I cannot accept this. I want the government to listen to us and to really read the motion instead of saying no right from the outset. I will read the motion once again. It is shocking to be told that it will be defeated.

That this House reject calls by the Prime Minister to balance the Conservative deficit on the backs of Canada’s seniors by means such as raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and call on the government to make the reduction and eventual elimination of seniors’ poverty a cornerstone of the next budget.

What I cannot accept is the idea of increasing the OAS eligibility age from 65 to 67. Throughout the last session, the government tended to pass the buck to the provinces to balance its budget.

In my riding, which is part of Montreal, many 60- and 61-year-old seniors are on social assistance and must wait until they are 65 to receive the old age pension. Today, the provinces are being told that the eligibility age will be pushed back to 67 and that they will have to provide social assistance to these people for two more years.

An organization in my riding, the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC), published a report entitled A Profile of English-speaking Mature Workers Residing in the Greater Montreal Area. In Montreal, we must deal with the challenge of anglophones who have difficulty finding work. Imagine someone who only speaks English, is 62 and is looking for work. That is tough. I understand this and I even understand the employer's point of view. I cannot deny that there may be less incentive to hire a 62-year-old who will be retiring soon. These people have a great deal of difficulty finding a job, and CEDEC works hard to help them with their job search. Now, we are telling these people, who are having a hard time and are forced to go on social assistance, that they will have to wait two more years because they have a hard time finding a job and that the Canadian government is abandoning them by increasing the eligibility age for OAS.

I have a very hard time accepting that. I want to know how this government, which is supposed to be closer to the people—or so I would hope—can refuse to help seniors who have contributed to society their whole lives.

Today I am appealing to the government's human side. I am asking the government to reconsider its decision and support the motion moved by my colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard. I want to be sure the government understands that we are talking about living with dignity, a concept we have been hearing about for a long time. We have been hearing more and more about dying with dignity. Dying with dignity is not just about the last few months of life one spends in a hospital; it is about being in one's sixties and finding life a little more difficult, finding it a little harder just getting around in the winter. We all know what winter is like in Quebec. Last Wednesday, the farm women's association I visited told me that there were not many people in attendance because of the winter. Seniors have a hard time getting around when it is icy, so it is difficult for them to have a social life.

We are asking the government to help these people, but it only replies that it needs to reduce the deficit in its next budget, that it has goals to achieve between now and 2015, that it has cut taxes, that it gave money to its friends in big business and that it is really sorry it cannot help seniors because it has to balance its budget instead.

In closing, I would ask the new government to reconsider its position and support my colleague's motion.

I hope to soon be able to tell my constituents that the government has listened to reason and has decided to help them.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member. Why is she criticizing our government's foresight in ensuring the sustainability of the old age security system for future generations, including her own generation, which is concerned about its future?

We simply want to ensure that future generations will have the same old age security system that exists today. Why does my dear colleague not take that into consideration?

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. I will answer him by quoting Edward Whitehouse, who leads the team analyzing pensions within the OECD, who said that according to his analysis, Canada is not facing major challenges in terms of the financial viability of its public retirement system.

He added that long-term projections show that the public retirement benefits are financially viable. In his opinion, the aging population will naturally cause increased spending on public pensions, but the rate of increase is lower than in a number of OECD countries and the starting point is better. He also says that the earnings-related public plans—CPP and QPP—have built up substantial reserves in order to cope with these later-stage expenditures.

It is easy to see what is happening. It is not a matter of foresight; it is a matter of saddling seniors with the debt burden.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure we have all been receiving emails and phone calls about the issue of pensions and the Conservatives' misguided approach to pension reform.

I just spoke to someone from Guelph. He mentioned that the Conservatives are spending tens of billions of dollars on new prisons when crime rates are going down and spending tens of billions on jet planes without getting a second price. Then he reminded me that we are getting 30 more MPs unnecessarily, renovating the West Block so we can move there and spending tens of millions of dollars renovating this House to accommodate 30 more MPs. He reminded me about how misguided the government's priorities are.

Would the member speak about the misguided, misdirected priorities of the government and why the Conservatives should not be placing the future burden of debt on the backs of seniors?

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely what I was saying in my speech. I thank my hon. colleague. I do not understand it, either, and I deplore it. This government can never find money for voters, for ordinary Canadians and for seniors, but it can always find money for its friends. That much is clear. It makes no sense for the government to help large corporations and prisons.

I said the same thing about prisons. I used to teach in a prison and I can say that we do not need more prisons. We need programs in our prisons to facilitate rehabilitation. That is what the NDP has always supported and will always support. It is not normal for a government to spend money on a bunch of programs like prisons, the F-35 jets and corporate tax cuts. Several analysts said that cutting taxes was a bad idea. The upshot is that the government is going to raise the eligibility age for old age pensions, because there is no more money; it was spent elsewhere. That is a poor excuse.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord for a brief question.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, many things do not make sense in this debate. Earlier we heard from the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, one of the only Conservatives elected in Quebec. He should understand the question I am about to ask.

In this case, who gets the bill? My colleague talked about this earlier. We know that anyone who loses two years of benefits will turn to social assistance. In that case, who will pay for this at the end of the day?

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question. As I said in the last part of my speech, the idea was to send the bill to the provinces. That seems to be the Conservatives' answer to dealing with their budget and their deficit. I think it is a very bad idea. We know this is already causing problems, in Quebec and Ontario in particular. I think the provinces are going to refuse once again to pay these bills for two more years.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 2nd, 2012 / 1 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my honoured colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville.

I appreciate being invited to participate in the debate regarding the old age security program, or the OAS, as it is commonly known. This discussion provides the perfect context to clear up some of the confusion, the miscommunication and misinformation that surrounds the issue of seniors' poverty.

I would like to start by assuring everybody that the Government of Canada recognizes financial security as a factor that has an obvious impact on our seniors' quality of life. As the Prime Minister has said, any seniors currently receiving benefits as well as those nearing retirement will not be affected.

Our government is vigilant on this issue and we truly appreciate the contribution seniors have made and continue to make in building our communities in Canada.

A key priority for the Government of Canada is to help Canadians prepare for and achieve financial security in their later years. We know that seniors are concerned about the economy and maintaining their standard of living in retirement. That is understood. This is an issue that has come into even greater focus in light of the demographic shift that we are experiencing.

It is no secret the Canadian population is aging. Events around the world and our aging population make it clear that the government needs to make responsible decisions to ensure that social programs are sustainable.

In 2011 the first baby boomers reached the milestone of turning 65. At the same time, Canadians are living much longer than ever before. Canadians can enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world at close to 81 years old. Taken together, these phenomena are profoundly affecting our country. The result is that the age structure of the population is changing so that there is a higher proportion of senior citizens.

There is a demographic projection we will hear quoted many times today that in less than two decades, close to one in four Canadians will be over age 65. To put it into some context, the proportion of seniors in Canada currently stands at one in seven.

There are obvious financial implications to living longer, as more seniors begin to rely on retirement income for longer periods. As a government we have done a great deal to ensure that Canadians have financial security in their later years. As I stated before, it is one of our key priorities.

The most important financial support we provide to seniors is through the public pension system. This system is highly regarded internationally, and for good reason. It has played a very significant role in reducing lower income rates among seniors. In fact, the incidence of poverty among seniors in Canada has dropped from a rate of 21% in 1980 to 5.2% in 2009. This is one of the lowest rates in the world.

We describe Canada's retirement income system as being made up of three pillars. The first pillar is one that dominates our discussion today, the OAS. The Canada pension plan, CPP, is the second pillar. The third pillar consists of personal savings, including employee pensions, registered retirement savings plans, tax-free savings accounts, as well as other savings and investments.

As members are likely aware, the government is seeking to build on the third pillar. To do this we recently introduced Bill C-25 to create the legislative framework for the establishment of pooled registered pension plans, PRPPs. PRPPs would provide the majority of Canadians who do not have workplace pensions with access to well-registered, low-cost, private sector pension coverage.

Let me revisit the first two pillars, OAS and CPP. Together these two public pillars are designed to provide a modest base upon which to build additional retirement income. This year Canadians will receive close to $72 billion in benefits through the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, GIS.

It is true that these benefits do not come automatically. All Canadians have to apply for them. That is why we have taken steps to inform Canadians about their eligibility for these benefits and to help them through the application process.

Through HRSDC and Service Canada, our government is using direct mail, information campaigns, partnerships and community organizations to reach seniors who may be eligible for OAS and GIS.

Some of these efforts are aimed at seniors who are particularly hard to reach, such as those who are homeless, those who live in remote communities, immigrant seniors, aboriginal seniors, seniors with disabilities and those who do not speak either English or French.

We issue more than 600,000 application forms to Canadian seniors who are not yet receiving their CPP or OAS to encourage them to apply. Every year, we mail out thousands of pre-filled applications to people we think may qualify for GIS and the target group changes every year. Most GIS recipients now only need to apply once in their lifetime and have their benefits automatically renewed simply by filling out their annual tax return. As members can see, we are making great efforts to reach out to low-income seniors and to inform them about their benefits.

Speaking of benefits, I will speak a little more on the GIS.

As I said, the GIS provides extra support for seniors with little to no income and has a great success in reducing poverty among seniors. Our efforts to combat senior poverty does not stop there. In our last Speech from the Throne, we pledged that the government's low tax plan would permanently enhance benefits for Canada's most vulnerable seniors. We honoured that pledge last year by providing the largest GIS increase in 25 years. This measure will help Canada's lowest income seniors out of poverty. More than 680,000 low-income seniors are benefiting from this increase. These seniors are now receiving additional GIS of up to $600 for a single senior and up to $840 for couples.

In 2008 we increased the GIS exemption from $500 to $3,500. The earnings exemption allows low-income working seniors to keep more of their hard-earned money. This year we are providing more tax relief for seniors and pensioners, saving them $2.3 billion.

The measures I have just outlined demonstrate that the Government of Canada is taking concrete steps for seniors. We are actively helping Canadians prepare for and achieve financial security in their latter years. This is an ongoing effort for us because it is a key priority.

Opposition Motion—Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to sit in the House and listen to my colleagues across the aisle talk about the amazing things they have done for seniors, while at the same time the Prime Minister goes to another land and at a very fine podium shakes the country by making an announcement that he is going to be transforming our pension systems.

In my community I have seniors living in poverty today. Yes, they were shaken by that announcement. People in my community, whether in high school, and I have quite a few letters from them, or whether they are in their twenties, thirties or forties, are worried and they have every reason to be. We have seen the actions of the government to undermine our very strong public pensions, throw confusion around the OAS and try to change it at this time.

What answers does my colleague have for seniors who are living below the poverty line in his community right now? What answers does he give them when they say they are living in poverty?