Monday November 24, 2014

Thoughts on changes to Old Age Security

Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc.

The federal government, with all its supposed intelligence, with all its bureaucrats, with all its research capabilities, comes up with a real "wowser" in its budget regarding seniors. In the year 2023 everyone who thought they could retire at 65 will now have to wait until they are age 67. Now that must have taken weeks of study and numerous coffee breaks to come up with something so earth-shattering. All the thought that went into that must surely have kept the lights burning on Parliament Hill night after night Ė all to say that the Old Age Security was not sustainable if changes were not made.

If they had stood outside the doors of the nearest fast food emporiums they could maybe have learned something about those up-and-coming seniors, not only the ones affected in 2023 but in the years after. As they watched them struggle to carry their 250 pounds of obesity through the doors and gorge on a double hamburger, fries, onion rings and a shake or a gallon of pop, the thought may have come to them that these future "seniors" may not possibly make it to that time.

It has been stated so many times by all types of health specialists and critics that, between the ages of 11 and 50, obesity is an epidemic. Along with the obesity, coming at breakneck speed, is the accompanying diabetes. Just ask the experts.

One of the reasons present day seniors are living longer is not only due to the better health care we receive now but the mainstay of their long life was a better diet. No McDonalds, no A & W, no Burger King, etc. Ė just good old-fashioned home cooking. Lots of vegetables and lots of hard work. They just did not sit around and twiddle their fingers and thumbs but they actually got up and did manual work. They dug, planted and cared for huge gardens that produced "organicĒ food, which at that time was just called food.

The vegetables and fruits we have now, that have been so consistently treated with herbicides and growth hormones, may all look the same but they sure as heck donít taste the same. So with the big C being the number one killer of Canadians and more than 50 per cent of the population being obese and suffering from diabetes, and also taking into account the stressful lifestyle of today, I donít think we really have to worry about the sustainability of the old age pension.

Some financial experts claim that itís all just a smokescreen any way, a cover up for something else thatís in the minds of our elected politicians. Anyway, why should we believe a government that talks about OAS sustainability when they just recently tried to bamboozle us about $9 billion in new aircraft deals.

The present day senior just getting by on the present pension payout could receive an increase at least equal to the increase in the cost of living, which everyone knows is more than 2 per cent, and still the OAS would be sustainable for many generations to come. After all we have paid for it in our taxes for the last 50 to 60 years.

Now if that was not enough, the provincial government in their combined wisdom raised the prescription fee charge under the Saskatchewan Drug Plan. Not a 2 per cent, no, not a 5 per cent increase but a whopping 25 per cent increase. Much the same increase as they all gave themselves at their last pay raise. Not too shabby if you are one of the chosen ones and have money to spare in your pockets but a real stinger for those old people who need the medications just to stay alive. Itís not just the old people this affects, it hits the single parents with children who are prescribed medications to treat their various illnesses.

Government spokespersons tell you that under the seniorsí income plan they have already increased the amount given by $60 per month, but the bad news is the increased cost of food and shelter has already taken care of that amount. If only both governments chased the rich to recover all the unpaid taxes and big business to pay their fair share of taxes as much as they chase the old, the sick and the young, then just maybe there would not be as many who are suffering as the rate of inflation continues to climb. Fairness and justice may just be words to our elected politicians but to the man and woman in the street they mean a life with recognition and dignity.

The convention this year has suffered a slight setback with guest speaker Hon. Ralph Goodale not able to attend, unfortunately, because of other commitments that arose on short notice. We do hope, however, that the speaker taking his place will be just as beneficial and inspiring to the delegates.

The convention call has gone out to all the clubs and centres so you will already know about the changes we have been able to make for delegates lucky enough to be attending. I hope to see many of you there, but for everyone, keep active and stay healthy.



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