In a few days I will be eagerly checking my online bank statement to make sure that I get my monthly ‘dividend’ from Ottawa. I’m talking about Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. For me, the monthly total is just over $1400 . It’s a far cry from what I made twenty years ago when there was still a viable radio business in this country, but it’s a lot better than what seniors earn in many other parts of the world.
Luckily I still have some private retirement income, and I make enough as a freelancer to possibly buy a slurpee once a week.
Ottawa and most of the provinces have just agreed to sweeten the CPP a little. Beginning in 2019, working Canadians will pay an extra $7 a month in premiums. By 2023 that will rise to $34, and somewhere down the road, if we live long enough, we’ll get that money back.
For reasons that have yet to be explained, Manitoba did not sign on to the deal, but it will still go ahead anyway because it only needs the support of seven provinces. Conservative Premier Brian Pallister made some fairly predictable remarks, suggesting that we should not be sweetening public pensions, because Canadians need to provide for themselves.
If you examine the history, it has generally been the Liberals who have established pensions in this country, often with a not so gentle push from the NDP. Mackenzie King was Prime Minister in 1927 when a pension of $20 a month was first introduced. You couldn’t get it until age 70, and relatively few people lived that long. It wasn’t universal. There was a means test, just like there was for welfare during the Great Depression.
We fancy ourselves as a kinder gentler nation, with a social safety net. But in a way, it’s not unlike the folks who scurry around tidying their house before the cleaning person arrives.
Good Heavens! We don’t want anyone to think we really need them.
I’m Roger Currie