Reforming Old Age Security: A Social Work Perspective
For Immediate Release
June 21, 2012
The Government of Canada recently announced its intention to reform Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Specifically, it proposes to gradually increase the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the GIS between the years 2023 and 2029 from 65 to 67. The age of eligibility for the Allowance will also increase from 60 to 62.
As a response to these proposed changes, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) developed, Reforming Old Age Security: A Social Work Perspective, a paper that considers the position of the government that the current old age security program is not financially sustainable by assessing the financial burden on the federal government and by comparing the Canadian experience with Western Europe. CASW also briefly considers some alternative reforms to those proposed by the Government of Canada. CASW’s evaluation is not driven by a bias toward, or against, any particular government rather it is guided by a set of principles which are consistent with social work values.
CASW’s assessment of the proposed reforms to the Old Age Security program places a priority on the impact of the proposed changes on women as it is clear that for senior women, the OAS program is a far more important source of income than for men. In fact in 2008, fully 52.6% of the income of senior women came from government transfers compared to 37.5% for men while 30% of senior women’s income came from the Old Age Security program compared to 16.9% for men “For many low income women, now and in the future, receipt of old age security benefits is the first time they will have a stable income which helps alleviate the state of abject poverty they are experiencing” notes CASW President, Morel Caissie. “For these women, it is an improvement in their standard of living.”