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Sun Youth seniors disenchanted with PM

March 2012

Many seniors interviewed at Sun Youth on St. Urbain say they will not support Stephen Harper as prime minister if he goes through with his plan to raise the eligibility age for old-age security to 67 from 65.

Veronica Shattler said Harper isn’t staying true to his word, since he promised in his 2005 election campaign that he would preserve the plan.

“Once people hit 60 years old, they can’t wait to receive their pension,” said Shattler, 67. “Adding another two years to their wait would be taking it too far.”

In 2006, more than 14 per cent of Canadians were 65 or older. It is projected that in 2041, that will rise to 23 per cent, representing a large percentage of the voting population.

Shattler believes the government is losing either way. “If they don’t give the seniors their pensions, some will be forced to go on welfare,” she said.

Florence Harnois said that she would be more accepting of the change if the government offered more.

“We’d want a bit more money because medication costs money,” she said. “They should at least pay eyes and teeth and stuff so we don’t have to worry as much.”

Harnois and fellow seniors Marie Godin, Fernande Plante, André Tremblay and Denis Duval believe the government is taking away what they’ve earned.

“We worked all our lives to receive our pension,” Godin said. “And they’re the ones going around parading in limousines. These people in Parliament don’t realize what it’s like for us because they get their special pension.”

Harnois is concerned about women living without their husbands; those who don’t work can’t afford to wait the extra two years.

Tony Stewart suggested that many people are laid off in their early 60s and would have to find another job until they hit 67. Ernesta Esguerra is worried for some younger relatives, who are going to be retiring soon.

“I don’t want my relatives to continue working until 67,” she said. “It’s unhealthy.”

The seniors expressed hope Harper won’t follow through. “You need to fight for what you want,” Shattler said. “If you don’t fight, you get nothing.”



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