While Finance Minister Jim Flaherty may have delivered a fatal blow to the Canadian penny, his budget made it abundantly clear that the Conservative government doesn’t give two cents about sharing the sacrifice it’s asking working Canadians to make.
Thursday’s budget inflicted a knockout blow to the retirement hopes of many Canadians under the age of 54, raising the age at which Canadians can collect Old Age Security to 67 from 65, beginning in April 2023.
While the Conservatives have hinted at the pending changes to OAS for several months, Thursday’s budget puts retirement at age 65 out of reach for most Canadians born after 1958.
That is, unless you are a member of Parliament. While ordinary young Canadians must become accustomed to the notion of working until the grave, the Conservative government has preserved an MP pension plan fitting of the ruling elite.
Flaherty hinted that “over time”, changes will be made to require MPs to make 50 per cent of the contributions to their pensions — something the vast majority of private-sector employees already do. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates that MPs currently contribute about $1 to their pensions for every $23.30 supplied by taxpayers, once all the perks federal politicians receive are worked into the equation.
And while the federal budget made vague reference to further “adjustments” to MP pensions, there was no mention of raising the eligibility age, which currently sits at 55.
So while Canadians are being asked to wait until age 67 before they see the roughly $510 a month in average OAS benefits, the estimated $5,600 in monthly pension benefits awaiting Flaherty are there for the taking.
The government’s priorities have never been more clear.