Brant residents and New Democrats from across the province were shocked to hear Brant Conservative MP Phil McColeman’s statements in the House of Commons this week. In a prepared speech McColeman claimed that paying for the Old Age Security program which helps some of the most vulnerable seniors in the country was a “burden” and should not be left to “future generations of Canadians.”
“It’s unfortunate some Conservatives feel that our seniors, receiving $540 a month, are a burden. And that those same MP’s consider $80 Billion of taxpayers money spent on planes that can’t fly and prisons that won’t work, money well spent,” said John Rafferty the New Democratic Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River in direct response to McColeman’s comments.
Brant NDP representative and 2011 Federal Candidate Marc Laferriere says the local community is equally off put by the Harper Government’s threats to the Old Age Security system. “We’ve received more calls and correspondence on these threats to the Old Age Security system than any other issue since the May 2011 election,” he said. “This was not mentioned in the platform they ran on less than a year ago and I’m receiving a lot of contact from residents who voted Conservative in the last election who are angry about this. It’s important that our elected officials speak for our community which clearly is not in favour of any cuts to OAS.”
In his statement McColeman also said “We cannot afford to put our head in the sand and hope the challenge of financial sustainability will go away.” These statements are in direct conflict with a study commissioned by the Harper government and led by Edward Whitehouse of the World Bank which stated that “Canada does not face major challenges of financial sustainability with its public pension schemes,” and that “there is no financial or fiscal need to increase pension ages in the foreseeable future.”
“It appears the Conservative Government has their head in the sand when it comes to their own research. They are also willfully putting their head in the sand when it comes to the reality many seniors in our community face now and will face in the future,” said Laferriere.
McColeman’s statements in the House also drew comments from Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP and the NDP’s critic on Pensions Wayne Marston.
“The Conservatives gave $16 billion in tax cuts to profitable corporations without receiving a single job guarantee. And now, facing a revenue shortfall, they expect Canadian seniors to pay the price,” said Marston. “A better option for Canadians is to expand the CPP, as the NDP has long argued. A modest increase in premiums can finance a doubling of CPP benefits for all Canadian workers. This would provide real, sustainable, retirement security for Canadians.”
For the full text of the original speech from the House of Commons please go to www.openparliament.ca
To learn more about the Old Age Security controversy visit http://www.ndp.ca/oas