Small GIS increase to go only to those seniors with less than $2,000 income a year.
Ottawa (28 March 2011) – The 2011 federal budget, which failed to past when the Harper government went down to defeat last Friday, offered senior Canadians very little and did nothing to fix the retirement security crisis that Canada is facing.
While the budget did include a small increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors at a cost of $300 million, it was far from what was needed to lift senior Canadians out of poverty.
The labour movement and many senior organizations across the country called for an immediate 15 percent increase in the GIS to eliminate poverty among the elderly. This would have taken an investment of about $1 billion, which is about one-sixth of the corporate tax cuts the Conservatives plan to hand out this year. Instead of solving senior poverty in our country, the Harper government chose instead to carry on with their reckless tax cuts to Canada’s wealthiest corporations.
The small GIS increase would have provided $1.64 a day for single seniors and $2.30 a day for couples. The amount was only go to those with less than $2,000 in annual income other than from OAS and GIS and would begin to be clawed back at a rate of 75 percent on any income over that amount.
The budget briefly spoke to “continuing work (by the federal and provincial governments) on options for modest enhancement of Canada’s CPP,” but did not indicate strong support for such an option. Enhancements to CPP would have gone a long way in providing adequate retirement income to Canadian seniors and would not have cost the federal government one cent as they would have been financed through increased premiums. Despite that, the Harper government refused to get on board with the labour movement and seven of the provinces who support an improved CPP as the best way to achieve retirement security for Canadians.
It did restate the government’s intention to proceed with its inferior private sector insurance company scheme, Pooled Retirement Pensions Plans (PRPPs) in which employer contributions are optional, however, it provided no details.
There was also an announcement in the budget that the government plans to amend both the Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to eliminate mandatory retirement for federally regulated employees, unless a bona fide occupational requirement exists. Other federal legislation will also be reviewed in connection with this objective.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE