Inaction on OAS not an option: Finley 0
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)
OTTAWA - The Conservative government is showing no signs of backing down from reforming Old Age Security, despite almost a month of backlash against the planned changes.
On Tuesday, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley tried to persuade Canadians that those changes are indeed necessary, warning doing nothing would create an undue burden on future generations of Canadians.
"Inaction is simply not an option, something must be done," the minister said in a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto, pointing to the "new reality" facing Canada -- a rising average life expectancy, a projected smaller tax base, and retiring boomers -- as key reasons the government is looking to push through changes to the plan.
"More people will be collecting for longer," she said.
But despite highlighting the demographic squeeze coming down the pipes, she offered no details on what the government will offer as a solution.
"It was a whole lot of nothing from the sound of it," said NDP pension critic Wayne Marston.
Marston agreed aging demographics are a concern, but said the New Democrats preferred to see a boost to Canada Pension Plan conributions than changes to OAS.
Last month in Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the surprise announcement his government would seek changes to OAS.
His remarks sparked a firestorm of concern and controversy the government has so far failed to extinguish.
Pension issues dominate question period in the House of Commons; polls suggest Canadians are concerned about any adjustments; and Conservative MPs are taking heat from angry constituents.
The government has kept tight-lipped on details of its plans, only releasing bits of information in dribs and drabs.
The prime minister confirmed that the government is considering upping the age of eligibility for the program. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said changes would be unlikely before 2020. And Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors, let slip that some measures will be in next month's budget.