February 15, 2011
Benoit pleased to confirm prisoners will no longer receive old age security benefits
“As the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development made clear, it was wrong that convicted killers like Clifford Olson were receiving taxpayers’ entitlements such as OAS benefits,” said Benoit. “Our government made a commitment to Canadians to end these entitlements for prisoners, and we delivered.”
Benoit points out that the move was received in a very positive manner by many organizations, including Victims of Violence. “As their President, Ms. Sharon Rosenfeldt, confirmed, ‘It’s great to see that this government is putting victims and taxpayers first, ahead of criminals,’” explains Benoit.
“I know from the recent economic consultations I held throughout Vegreville-Wainwright in January that my constituents certainly feel it is common sense that prisoners who are already receiving taxpayer-funded room and board should not also receive OAS,” says Benoit.
In addition to suspending Old Age Security benefits for federal inmates who have sentences of two years or more, the Government of Canada will begin negotiations with the provinces and territories to implement these changes for provincial and territorial inmates who have sentences exceeding 90 days.
Low-income spouses and common-law partners of prisoners will not lose their entitlement to the income-tested Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowances.
Old Age Security benefit payments will be suspended the month following an inmate’s incarceration. Benefits will start or resume the month the individual is released.
Old Age Security
The Old Age Security (OAS) program is the cornerstone of Canada’s retirement income system.
In order to be eligible to receive OAS benefits, applicants must have resided in Canada for a minimum of 10 years, after age 18. A person applying for OAS benefits who has fewer than 10 years’ of residence in Canada may nevertheless qualify for a partial benefit if he or she has accumulated pension credits from one of the countries with which Canada has an international social security agreement. With 40 years of residence in Canada, a full pension can be received.
The OAS program offers three types of benefits:
- The OAS basic pension: This pension is paid to individuals aged 65 or older who meet the residence requirements. In 2009−2010, 4.7 million seniors received $27.3 billion in OAS pension benefits.
- The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): The GIS is paid to individuals receiving the OAS basic pension who have little or no other income. In 2009−2010, 1.6 million seniors received $7.7 billion in GIS benefits.
- The Allowances: The Allowance is paid to individuals aged 60 to 64 whose spouse or common-law partner receives the GIS. The Allowance for the Survivor is paid to individuals between the ages of 60 and 64, who have little or no income, and whose spouse or common-law partner has died, and who have not remarried or entered into a common-law relationship. In 2009−2010, 94 000 people approaching their senior years received $535 million in Allowances.
OAS benefits are adjusted quarterly in January, April, July and October to reflect changes in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Old Age Security Act contains a guarantee that ensures that OAS benefits are not reduced, even when there is a decrease in the CPI. As such, if the CPI goes down, OAS benefits will remain the same.
Individuals must apply for OAS benefits. They do not start automatically.