There are few issues that touch the vast majority of people in our community, but the security of our seniors is one that does. Many residents in Halifax West have called, emailed or written my office to let me know you are opposed to raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67.
The Conservative government included changes to OAS in their 425-page budget bill that will increase the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 starting in 2023. If you are over the age of 54, you will still be eligible for OAS and the Guaranteed Income Supplement at age 65. Others will have to wait two extra years for their pensions.
The Conservative government has given no evidence that these changes are necessary to maintain the OAS program. In fact, recognized experts from the University of Calgary, York University, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and even the Government of Canada itself have all said our Old Age pension program does not face major challenges, and there's no pressing need for change.
The government hasn't even been able to tell Parliament how much money these changes are going to save.
However, I can tell you that the changes will cost low-income seniors as much as $30,000. OAS is designed to help seniors with the lowest income. Fifty per cent of the people who receive OAS earn less than $25,000 a year and 40 per cent earn less than $20,000.
In the future, these people will have to struggle for two more years without the support of the federal government and those who took the time to contact me think this is very unfair.
I want you to know that I am fighting these changes in the House of Commons. Liberals have introduced a motion calling on the government to recognize the importance of the public pension program and to maintain the age of eligibility at 65.
I recently ran in the Blue Nose Marathon 10K for the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who participated in the marathon and say thank you to all of the organizers and the countless volunteers who made it a success. This event not only encourages people to be more healthy and active, it also promotes community spirit and provides fundraising support to many important non-profit groups like Feed Nova Scotia and the Nature Trust.
Helping each other is in our DNA and it is no surprise that Canadians spend more than two billion hours a year helping others. They volunteer at community events like the Blue Nose Marathon, pack boxes at the food bank, organize community clean-ups and work with their parent-teacher associations. Two-thirds of all Canadians donate to charitable organizations every year.
Participating in events like the Blue Nose Marathon reminds me how important it is to thank the many people who give their time and financial support to our communities. That's why I am pleased to sponsor Bill S-201, the National Philanthropy Day Act in the House of Commons. This bill was introduced in the Senate by fellow Nova Scotian, Terry Mercer. It recognizes November 15 as National Philanthropy Day in honour of these many contributions. It was recently passed unanimously at Second Reading in the House of Commons.
If you know someone who should be congratulated for their work in our neighbourhoods, or if would like to share your views on any issues with the federal government, please contact me at 426-2217 or email@example.com.