Friday, February 16, 2007

Free Money For ALL!!!

Olivia Chow wants all immigrants, even if they've just arrived in Canada, to collect the Old Age Pension. Under the present system, you must live in the country ten years before you're eligible. You don't have to be a citizen, nor do you have to contribute any premiums. In Chow's world, seniors in reunited families would get Canadian pensions as soon as they arrive, along with medical coverage and all other social services, whether or not they've contributed a dime in taxes. My questions: How do people immigrate to Canada so late in life that they can't survive for ten years without government money? And if, as she said earlier today in Parliament, it's an issue of family unification, why aren't families helping keep their elderly relatives out of poverty? Is there any country in the world that gives seniors life-long old age security pensions and no co-pay medicare as soon as they arrive? Are the governments of the immigrants' countries of origin off the hook for the cost of supporting emigrants in their retirement years?

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP) :
Mr. Speaker, thousands and thousands of immigrant seniors are forced to live in isolation with barely the means to support themselves.

The situation is dire for far too many. They must choose between medication and rent payments, and despite the recommendations of the Immigrant Seniors Advocacy Network, there is still a cruel 10 years residency requirement on the old age security.

Will the minister finally provide fairness for seniors and will he implement the excellent and humane recommendations from the network?

* * *

Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, CPC) :
Mr. Speaker, we are addressing that in Bill C-36, and I would recommend that the position we are taking will work very well for the seniors the hon. member is speaking about.

This particular provision will ensure that we do not compromise our immigration.

* * *

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP) :
Mr. Speaker, that was not much of an answer. The government is turning its back on Canadian seniors.
The Immigrant Seniors Advocacy Network represents thousands of Canadians and they are telling the government that the restrictions on sponsoring elderly relatives are too tight, that they cannot access old age security and that without assistance for public transport, seniors are isolated and lonely.

Will the minister listen to the voice of experience and the wisdom that comes with age and will the government meet directly with our immigrant seniors?

* * *

Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, CPC) :
Mr. Speaker, I encourage the member to help us pass Bill C-36.
The wonderful thing about old age security is that there is a residency provision. We do not discriminate. People can be non-Canadians or Canadians. Old age security is offered universally to anybody who has had residency in Canada.

I encourage the member to please help us pass Bill C-36 as quickly as possible so that some of her fears can be alleviated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey,
I'm definitely not an expert, but here is my take on it.

Canada is now home to more and more immigrants every year. These same immigrants are typically younger (because that is just how the system works). Therefore when they come here, often with their spouses and young children, they realize the benefit of having their parents here as well. Many of the parent are seniors or approaching that age (65). It is a matter of family reunification and families are helping to keep elderly relatives out of poverty the best they can. However, it is extremely difficult with the cost of living for newcomers to Canada to be able to afford everything. Also, situations occur such as family breakdowns and these seniors are left out in the cold with no support. The OAS is a benefit that is NOT dependant on income or employment unlike the CPP...it is not "free money"(i'm sure you can look into this online...lots of info). The governments of the country of origin of the seniors are not "off the hook", but the senior is also now LIVING in Canada. So doesn't Canada have a responsibility to treat all seniors equally (charter of rights). Also, Canada has reciprocal agreements with certain countries. This is very helpful for those who come from those few countries (mostly ones in Europe), but yet again shows the lack of equality based on which country you immigrate from.
The Immigrant Seniors Advocacy Network are doing great work and I recommend you look into it. Most recently they held a press conference (in Toronto) where they handed over 10,000 signed petitions to give to the Gov of Canada.

I didn't mean for this to turn out as long as it did, but I hope it is helpful (and makes sense).

Lorie