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Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen during a meeting with Catherine Swift, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, at his office in Ottawa Wednesday January 18, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seen during a meeting with Catherine Swift, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, at his office in Ottawa Wednesday January 18, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

NDP set to pressure Tories on OAS plans Add to ...

The NDP is accusing the Harper government of taking advantage of Canada’s seniors to balance its budget and will use its opposition day this week to try to goad Conservatives into revealing its plans to reform Old Age Security.

MPs will debate this motion Thursday: “That this House rejects calls by the Prime Minister to balance the Conservative deficit on the backs of Canada’s seniors by means such as raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and calls on the government to make the reduction and eventual elimination of seniors’ poverty a cornerstone of the next budget.”

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The opposition parties are allowed a certain number of days in which they can frame the debate and set the agenda in the House of Commons.

This motion, which is to be voted on Monday, is unlikely to pass, given the Conservative majority. However, opposition day debates are always revealing of fault-lines and different positions from the parties.

Since the House returned Monday from its six-week Christmas, the controversy over pensions and reforms has dominated. The NDP is now keeping up the pressure with its opposition day motion.

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, the 27-year-old rookie MP from Pierrefonds-Dollard, is introducing the motion. She is the party’s deputy critic for seniors.

It is significant that the NDP has chosen a young person to lead off the debate on Old Age Security. But the speculation is the government is planning to move up the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 years of age – and the NDP wants young people to realize that their future retirement security is tied up in this issue.

In fact, both opposition parties have seized on the fact that there is now uncertainty for baby boomers and even younger Canadians around their retirement.

The Prime Minister touched off this storm of controversy last week in his speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Without giving any details, he noted that changes to Canada’s demographics means that some retirement programs may not be sustainable in the future.

Since then, the government has moved to reassure seniors that their OAS benefits will continue. Rather, the Conservatives have said they are looking to mid to long-term changes.

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