THUNDER BAY – A group of pensioners, soon-to-be pensioners, labour activists and supporters, angry at the Harper Government’s announcement that it intends to cut Old Age Security (OAS) benefits, are presently occupying a Service Canada office in Thunder Bay at 975 Alloy Drive, Thunder Bay. They are among hundreds of other seniors, retirees, workers and family members who have resorted to holding sit-ins at 21 Ontario Tory constituency offices, to demand that retirees and seniors be elevated out of poverty.
“Our government should be supporting retirees and seniors, not greedy corporations,” said Melanie Kelso, President of the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council. “Harper is spending billions to reduce corporate taxes but he refuses to call on these same corporations to invest a fraction of their publicly-subsidized savings in pensioners. Only a minor increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions would double CPP benefits for all retirees and seniors.”
Outraged constituents have resorted to occupying government offices and local constituency offices to demand that Conservative Members of Parliament abandon plans to push back the OAS eligibility age from 65 to 67, or reduce pension benefits. Instead, they are calling for the Harper government to introduce modest increases to Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions that would double benefits for all retirees and seniors.
“There is no excuse for Prime Minister Harper to cut the meagre incomes of pensioners or consign the working poor to two more years of poverty. Nearly every economist and the government’s own Parliamentary Watch Dog, Kevin Page, are forecasting the long-term sustainability of public pensions,” said Ryan. “If Harper thinks that he can take on retirees and seniors in this country without a fight from the labour movement, he is sorely mistaken. Harper has touched the ‘third rail’ of Canadian politics and in doing so he has unleashed a labour and seniors movement of ‘Blue-Grey Power’ that is prepared to mobilize the public to defend the income security of the retirees of today and tomorrow.”
“Thankfully, we don’t have any Tory MPs in the North, so we are bringing our frustrations directly to our local government offices at Service Canada to send a message to the Tories that people in this community are outraged that the Harper government is betraying Canadians,” said Kelso. “The Conservatives have no mandate to attack the retirement security of seniors and pensioners. The Tories are going to have a fight on their hands in communities across the country.”