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Harper cuts Clifford Olson's government pension payments

Clifford Olson is led away from court in Regina, Sask., April 4, 1996.

ROY ANTAL

Stephen Harper's government moved today to cut off old age subsidies to serial child killer Clifford Olson, calling the fact that he had been receiving them "outrageous" and "offensive."

"It's wrong and obviously unfair that prisoners who break the rules receive the same entitlements [as everyone else]" said Human Resources Minister Diane Finley today. She also called it "deeply insulting" to the families of Mr. Olson's victims.

Prime Minister Harper vowed to correct this situation several months ago after discovering that Mr. Olson, convicted in 1982 of murdering 11 children, has been collecting $516.96 in Old Age Security and $652.51 in Guaranteed Income Supplement for the past five years. He turned 70 on Jan. 1.

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He ordered Ms. Finley to fix it; he had said he was "upset" about it after reading about in the media.

Today, she said the government wants to implement the legislation as soon as possible, beginning at the federal level and then working to convince the provinces and territories to do the same in their institutions. They hope to have it passed this year.

She indicated the provinces were receptive; this measure would save $2-million annually in the federal institutions and $10-million in provincial and territorial institutions.

The legislation does not take away any rights of prisoners. Rather, it would suspend the taxpayer-funded payments while an individual is serving their sentence.

Spouses and common law partners of inmates would not be affected.

Benefits would be reinstated once the prisoner was released. Old age benefits are designed to help seniors with basic needs; it was explained at the press conference that housing and food are provided already for prisoners serving time.

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