Harper doing seniors a favour
Brian Lee Crowley, Calgary Sun
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has renewed a perennial debate about when Canadians should expect to retire.
According to media reports, Harper has in mind changes to the Old Age Supplement (OAS) and the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) that would raise the eligibility age for these benefits from 65 to 67.
Much of the reaction has focused on how such changes would affect public finances and the Canadian economy, essentially asking whether the benefits of reducing the cost of old age income programs, plus the increased labour supply, justifies making older Canadians “worse off.”
But that approaches such changes exactly backward.
Such reforms, far from taking something away from seniors, are a tiny step in reversing decades of bad policy that has marginalized older Canadians, damaged their health and harmed their morale.
Raising the age of eligibility is not a matter of imposing costs on seniors to benefit the rest of the population. It is an exceptionally pro-seniors policy to reduce the incentives to stop working at 65.
There was a time when age 65 and retirement were closely linked for a compelling reason. By then, a life of labour had left the average worker depleted. A few short years of decline were all that they could expect before death.
A Canadian male born in 1966, when the Canada Pension Plan was introduced, would only expect to live to age 68 or so. Today it is 79.
The age of 65 and the moment when one can no longer reasonably be expected to work have long since parted company. We live longer and in better health.
To read the full story: http://www.calgarysun.com/2012/02/04/crowley-harper-doing-seniors-a-favour