Inside Politics

PMO InfoAlerte Watch: So, about that Old Age Security "media speculation"...

Hot off the PMO InfoAlerteBot presses comes a lengthy dispatch on Old Age Security, which opens with the unnamed writer grumbling about "media ... speculating that the government may make changes" to the current system -- which is not, strictly speaking, untrue, but omits the perhaps pertinent fact that said speculation was sparked by the prime minister's own words during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In any case, the hoped-for lowest common denominator message takeaway for even the most attention-challenged recipient is likely the fourth line -- "To be clear: there will be no changes to the benefits seniors currently receive" -- but it's definitely worth reading the missive in its entirety, if only to admire how carefully it avoids giving any further details on what might be simmering away on the policy back burner.

It is also the first instance that I can recall of the inclusion of defensive talking points -- or, as the InfoAlerteBot puts it, "lines to define the expected opposition attack" -- specifically, the attack expected from the New Democratic Party which, it seems is not only "irresponsible" and "reckless", but also too "dangerous" for Canadians planning their retirement. (Interestingly, the Liberals didn't even make the cut.)

Here's the full text:

From: Alerte-Info-Alert [PMO]
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 11:46 AM
To: Alerte-Info-Alert [PMO]
Subject: Old Age Security
 
Old Age Security
Media are speculating that the federal Government may make changes to Old Age Security.

Our Government is committed to ensuring the retirement security of Canadians.

The Harper Government will ensure that seniors maintain ALL the benefits they currently receive.

To be clear: there will be no changes to the benefits seniors currently receive.

We will ensure any changes are done with substantial notice and adjustment period and in a way that does not affect current retirees or those close to retirement, and gives others plenty of time to adjust and plan for their retirement.

In Canada, there are two important programs that provide financial support to older Canadians: CPP/QPP and OAS.

CPP is funded through premiums that working Canadians pay with each paycheque and is on a secure and sustainable path. It does not need to be changed.

OAS is funded primarily through taxes on working people and is unsustainable on its current course.

For example:
      • The number of Canadians over the age of 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million over the next 20 years.
      • The OAS program was built when Canadians were not living the longer, healthier lives they are today.
      • Consequently, the cost of the OAS program will increase from $36B per year in 2010 to $108B per year in 2030.
      • Meanwhile, by 2030, the number of taxpayers for every senior will be 2 - down from 4 in 2010.

If we do nothing, OAS will eventually become too expensive and unsustainable.

Our Government will act to protect OAS.
We will not put the financial security and well-being of our seniors at risk.

We will take balanced, responsible, and prudent action to ensure OAS remains sustainable for future generations of Canadians.

Background - Retirement Security
Since 2006, we have:

      • Increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement for the most vulnerable seniors
      • Introduced pension income splitting and increased the age credit
      • Introduced innovative new programs such as the tax-free savings account and the PRPP to help Canadians save for retirement. 
As a result of our actions, seniors can individually earn approximately $19,000 per year or $38,000 as a couple before paying federal taxes.

Lines to Define the Expected Opposition Attack
We know the Opposition will attack any adjustments to the OAS program.

We know their approach.  It's the same tired (failed) approach to deficits and debt that led to the economic crisis in Europe.

The NDP prefers a "head in the sand" approach - ignore the problem until it is too late to save OAS benefits.

Their irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous approach to Canada's finances would put the entire OAS program at risk.

The NDP would put at risk the financial security of millions of middle aged working Canadians - all future generations - who are planning on OAS being there when they need it.

It demonstrates that the NDP is too dangerous for Canadians planning for their retirement. 

Tags: blackberry jungle, defence against the dark arts talking points, pensions, PMOInfoAlerteBot

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