Advocacy - National Association of Federal Retirees (FSNA) Hamilton Branch

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An open letter from Filomena Tassi, the Honourable Member of Parliament for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas as noted in the ANCASTER NEWS December 6, 2017.

Supporting our seniors during the holidays
Ancaster News - Wed Dec 6 2017

Tone: Positive   Peeks: 13053   Page: 1
It is December, and while the days are shorter and colder, our hearts will soon be warmed by the coming of Christmas, Hanukkah and the holiday season.

As I think of Christmas, and look out at the trees in silhouette against the grey winter light, I feel a moment of peace and I find myself reflecting on how much our seniors have contributed to Hamilton and Canada. I am struck by how our seniors have built this country and that they deserve to feel peace, stability and enjoy health during their retirement.

Hamilton is a rapidly growing city, with mounting prosperity. We are attracting incredible youth to our city because of more affordable housing opportunities, a thriving arts scene and three fantastic post-secondary institutions: McMaster University, Redeemer University College and Mohawk College. Unemployment in Hamilton is very low and all of the construction around the city certainly tells the story of our beloved city’s ambition. However, it is important that we do not leave vulnerable populations behind.

During my electoral campaign, one of the things that came back time and again was the eligibility age for Old Age Security. I took the message to Ottawa, as did all the other members of the Liberal caucus and Justin Trudeau listened. One of our government’s first priorities was to ensure that middle class seniors benefit from a secure, stable and dignified retirement after a lifetime of work. That’s why we have restored the eligibility age for Old Age Security to 65 after the previous Conservative government’s decision to raise it to 67. Without those changes, our vulnerable seniors would have faced a much higher risk of living in poverty, which is not acceptable.

I also know that Old Age Security is not always enough. Life happens and our financial fortunes can change, making many people who have worked very hard and contributed so much fall into poverty. Again, our government saw this and acted.

To help lift thousands of low-income seniors out of poverty, we have introduced the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up. Seniors who live alone will receive an extra $947 per year through GIS, helping 900,000 vulnerable seniors across Canada, of which 70 per cent are women. We passed legislation to enhance the Canada Pension Plan to improve the retirement income security of working age Canadians, who will be tomorrow’s seniors. We are helping people to better plan for their retirement and improve their quality of life, now and in the future.

I am very proud that our Liberal government has managed to reverse some of the previous government’s policies that were so damaging to the financial well-being of our seniors. We are working now to offer seniors the conditions to have healthy and secure years after retirement.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and the happiest of holiday seasons, full of food, fun and the caring love of family and friends.

- Filomena Tassi is MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas.

Response from Michael Walters, President, Hamilton and Area Branch 037. (To be published December 14, 2017)

Dear Ms. Tassi, Member of Parliament for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas;

Happy Holidays!

I read your piece in the Ancaster News last week. I too am looking forward to spending the holidays in our wonderful city.

While your government made progress for seniors on some aspects, like increases and enhancements to OAS, GIS and CPP, I think you may be forgetting another initiative that your government has brought forward that will affect seniors.

Bill C-27 is a problematic piece of legislationthat would allow Crown corporations and federally-regulated employers to push employees to surrender defined benefit pensions in favour of target benefit plans. In tough times, target benefits can be reduced, providing less retirement security for pensioners. This is the exact opposite of “helping people to better plan for their retirement” and creating the “conditions to have healthy and secure years after retirement”.

In the last election Prime Minister Trudeau told the National Association of Federal Retirees that defined benefit pensions “which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into [target benefit plans]” and that to do this is “unacceptable” and “wrong in principle”.Yet Bill C-27 would permit exactly that –this legislation will hurt the middle class.

Thousands of Canadians have contacted their Members of Parliament, and the Finance Minister asking that this government honour their promise to pensioners and withdraw Bill C-27. While it has become a hot topic in the media over recent months, there has been no movement in Parliament for more than a year.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I am writing to remind you and your government that pensions are deferred compensation, and employees have already provided their services in exchange for them. Not honouring a pension deal is like a big lump of coal where your retirement savings should be.

My holiday wish list is simple – I only want one thing that I hope you, and the Finance Minister, will deliver.

Withdraw Bill C-27, and give pensioners the happy holiday season they deserve.

Warm wishes,

Michael Walters, President
Hamilton & Area Branch, National Association of Federal Retirees

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