The Prime Minister set off quite a little tempest in the Ottawa teapot of politics with his musings over the sustainability of our Old Age Security pension (OAS). It does seem reasonable to me that our government would be reviewing this element of our social safety net in light of changing demographics. But the opposition seems dead set against changes—even discussion of change.
Thirty plus years of retirement will become the norm for large segments of our population—a long time to be collecting a pension. Last year, I had two friends who turned a hundred years old (though one died during the year) and had been retired for some 35 years.
If the current trend in life expectancy holds, a significant portion of those born this year will be alive and healthy well into the twenty-second century. The new norm will be something like: start work at 22 to 25; retire at 55 to 65 and die between 95 and 105.
That’s a lot for a society’s tax system to handle. Will we really be able to afford to provide these folks with pensions under the current terms, especially ones they do not specifically contribute towards?
We shouldn’t wait until we’re under the gun to have these conversations. We live in a changing world—I thought progressives liked change.
For now, I’ll leave the mock outrage and trumped up criticism to the Grits and the Dippers. I’ll hold judgement on the future of the OAS until after I hear the specifics of what Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories have in mind.