Planning for and enjoying your retirement

Federal budget includes Old Age Security change and $5 billion in cuts

By Doug Watt,

Comments (64)

Image of the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill for the Federal Budget 2012 announcement.Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has brought down a federal budget containing a significant tweak to the country’s retirement income system along with major cuts to government programs and services. Today’s budget was the Tories’ first under a majority government, and also includes new spending to promote job growth.

“We will not raise taxes,” Flaherty pledged in his budget speech. “We will maintain our consistent, pragmatic and responsible approach to the economy, and take the necessary next steps to build confidence in our future.”

Here are some budget highlights:

Retirement changes

The eligibility age for Old Age Security (OAS) will be gradually raised to age 67 from age 65, starting in 2023. The change will not affect Canadians who are 54 or older as of March 31, 2012. So, if you were born before March 31, 1958, you won’t be affected. If you were born between 1958 and 1962, you will be part of the phase-in period, and will be eligible for OAS somewhere between the ages of 65 and 67. If you were born after February 1, 1962, you won’t be eligible until you are 67.

You will now also have the option to defer your OAS payments (much as Canada Pension Plan payments can be deferred) for up to five years. This will allow you to receive an adjusted, higher rate in later years. For example, if you turn 65 in 2013 and opt to defer your OAS payments for one year, your annual pension would be $6,948 instead of $6,481. Ottawa notes that OAS payments are “actuarially neutral,” which means you’ll receive the same lifetime OAS amount whether you choose to defer or not.

The OAS program provides $38 billion in benefits to 4.9 million individuals, making it the largest government program. That amount is predicted to increase to $108 billion by 2030. There are no changes to Canada Pension Plan contribution rates in the budget and Ottawa says it is moving forward to implement Pooled Retirement Savings Plans.

Spending cuts

Ottawa says it has found “modest” savings measures to reduce the federal deficit. These measures amount to $5.2 billion, about 7% of current government program spending. The cuts are expected to lead to the elimination of 12,000 government jobs, mostly in Ottawa. That’s a big number, but the government notes that there were 50,000 cuts in the last major government program review in the 1990s. Through the cuts, Ottawa expects to reduce the deficit significantly over the next four fiscal years, predicting that it will fall from $24.9 billion in 2011-12 to $1.3 billion by 2014-15.

New spending

The budget includes many spending initiatives, including $1 billion to support science and technology, $500 million to help grow start-up companies, $5.2 billion over 11 years for the Coast Guard and $275 million for schools on native reserves.

Job creation

There’s new spending for small business, including $205 million to extend the Hiring Credit for Small Business and an additional $50 million for youth employment. Employment Insurance (EI) rate increases will be capped at no more than five cents per year until the EI account is balanced. Ottawa is also spending $74 million on a pilot project that will halve the clawback rate for people who work while collecting EI.

Pennies to disappear

It’s a long goodbye for the penny. As of this fall, the government says the Royal Canadian Mint will no longer distribute pennies, but the coins will be accepted as currency indefinitely. Ottawa suggests that we round off to the nearest five-cent mark in situations where pennies are not available and asks us to consider donating our pennies to charity.

The federal government’s spending plan affects individuals, families and businesses. For additional highlights read Budget 2012: A fiscal turning point from Sun Life Global Investments.

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vic on

what ever happenned to take care of your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves
some old fellas had to break their backs ..literally for a dime so when i see a penny on the ground i pick it up and think of this and one day if i have saved enuf, 10 cents might just save me bouncing charges at the bank etc.

    Leigh on

    Successive governments reduced the value of the currency so much that the penny and even the dime have nil value. This is the result of inflation, the worst of which came from Trudeau policies. Remember inflation approaching 20 percent along with interest rates even higher back then? It has been much worse in most other countries with the dictatorships being the worst.

      vic on

      you missed the point
      if a few cents keeps you from bouncing a cheque one day those worthless pennies as you call them have now saved you a 42.50 fee at the bank and likely 40.00 with whatever company not to mention your name
      are you about to throw out 60 dimes cuz they have no value when u could buy a pack of meat for that, or 3 coffees to get thru the working week? ill take them off your hands! thats bus fare to get to an emergency room or a job interview or that important meeting that could be life changing for some not as lucky as you might be. or simply to think of that guy who broke his back for a dime and remember not to be so careless w what we do have !!!

      there was a guy once who hacked in to a bank and took 1 to 2 pennies from each account, no one complained due to embarrassment over 1 to 2 cents, but he ended up gaining like a million dollars or so and this was 25 yrs ago.

      Leigh on

      Well now, using that logic I guess pennies are worth a lot since with about 2 or 3 million of them you can buy a new car. If I knew you I’d gladly give you all my pennies as they are a nuisance and I’m glad to see them disappear into the dust of history. When I was a kid one could buy two candies for one penny and 5 got you a nice chocolate bar. A bit later 25 of them bought a gallon of gas for my car (imperial gallon which was more than 4 litres). In regard to your 60 dimes, I’d rather have 3 toonies as they are much easier to use. None of the machines take dimes or even quarters now.

marcie on

New Brunswick has property taxes so high we are planning on living on the rivers.

Glenn Wallmann on

There is a prorated system in place for OAS. I believe you must have lived in Canada for 40 years to get your full OAS. It is nice to see that someone has already thought this through.

    Leigh on

    And if you have enough income to actually live on it is all clawed back. I didn’t even bother to apply as my accountant told me that they would want it all back plus interest so it was better to not get it at all. Seems it’s only for those who made no preperations for retirement.

      Glenn Wallmann on

      You only lose 15% if you have over $68 000 in taxable income. The OAS is not totally eliminated until your income exceeds $110 000. Apparently only 5% of Canadians suffer from any clawback and only 2% lose it completely. Leigh, it appears you are in the top 2%. Perhaps you should be gracious (unselfish) enough to appreciate your good fortune.

      Leigh on

      I’m not complaining, though I did work hard and tried to do the right things. Also helped a lot of others do well and plan and organize their lives, offering them opportunity and motivation. Most took advantage though of course a few squandered it. I don’t need the OAS thanks to my preparation for retirement but do get annoyed by those who did nothing to help themselves while in their working years and figure that the next generation somehow owe them a free ride.

Joe Ronson on

Cancel the senate, Would be a double win for the consrvatives. and canadian taxpayers .

Chris Lumm on

The government is just finding ways to keep the interest rates low and Canadian paying more. If interest rates were a more resonable amount like 10% there would be no need for multiple levels of savings for retirement.

    Leigh on

    Have you considered what mortgage and other finance rates would be if that were the savings account rate? It sure would solve the problem of Vancouver’s high real estate prices as very few could afford to own a home.

      Onthe DL on

      In a recent newspaper article it mentioned that 50% of the people in Vancouver rent now and most likely can not afford a home in Vancouver and are moving to Surrey where housing is cheaper.

      Leigh on

      Since the majority of familes who need a place to live don’t have the savings to just buy a property, they have to borrow the balance needed after their downpayment. They are in a vicious circle since when rates are very low like now, more are able to afford larger mortgages and this pushes the price of homes higher when the supply is limited due to land use controls such as the Vancouver area has. When the rates go up, the financing cost goes up reducing the size of mortages people can afford, normally pushing the prices of homes down. The problem in Vancouver is that there is another force at play, off-shore money coming from Asia that isn’t tied into the local economy that pushes the prices up and makes buying more difficult for those earning their living locally. This is why Vancouver is one of the least affordable cities in the world.

DanielA on

The bleeding heart Liberals think that money grows on trees. Harper needs to do more, multi-year deficits aren’t sustainable, neither is OAS. People aren’t having enough kids to pay into the plan. I will spend my working life contributing to somebody else’s retirement benefits. Why do so many civil servants still get inflation indexed defined benefit pensions? I don’t really care if some civil servant who’s spent their whole life being protected by an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure their members receive more money to do less work, and who was never accountable to customers as per costs and performance, has an income when they’re 95 years old.

    sam sawchuk on

    I am a senior and am on OAS I can tell you ,a person does not get rich. $533.00, By the time you pay your power and heating bill you’ll be lucky if you could purchase a can of sardines for a sandwich. The big problem is, I paid my share into these programs since i was 18 yrs old and then you have these so called immigrants that come to Canada that only support the program for a few years and turn 65 and get the full benefits. If the benefits were pro-rated to number of years worked, as Canadian 18 to 65 years; the plan would not be running out of money. Think about that 67yr old polish woman that got her citizenship last year, –old biddy gets full penson. OUR useless government members get a bigger penson in one month when they quit or get the boot, then I get in five years. thats where our money goes..

      Leigh on

      I assume that you are also getting CPP which is calculated according to what you contributed over your working years. That “old Polish” woman who didn’t work here won’t get that. I’m not suggesting that even the two of them are going to make you rich but along with your other savings and assets you should get by. I recall an old neighbor woman complaining like you while living by herself in a 4000 sq ft house in a nice neighborhood that was worth well over a million. She also owned a lakeside cottage of similar worth. She wouldn’t sell either one to solve her cash issue.

      cheryl on

      Oh my leigh, i think sam’s point has been missed. After contributing your blood sweat and tears for 50 or so years, you are rewarded with a measly $540 a month.
      So for an immigrant, they should definitely be pro-rated based on the length of time they have been in the country. It makes no difference that this immigrant would not be eligible for the meager benefit from CPP, that’s a whole other side of our nasty government.
      And as far as your old neighbor in her 4000 sq ft house, well some people just like to complain…don’t they.
      I have about 10 years to get to the “magic” age and I am scared sh**tless by that time there will be nothing left in the pot, which is a very believable reality.
      And I have to say your “getting by” comment irks me to no end. Lets say for argument sake that come your retirement you had to rely solely on your OAS and CPP, it would be interesting to know if you would settle to just “get by”. “Getting by” is still below poverty level.

      R Ostrowski on

      The part that irks me the most is when I retired after paying into the CPP since day one…..and now have just retired, I find that even with CPP…OAS…and GIS….I JUST make ends meet.. I wish I could get the financial assistance an MP gets when they retire. BIG Bonuses…over-inflated pension…and a severance package I could live on for the rest of my life. Yes…there will be no money left in the pension fund in a few years. The government has gone as far as suggesting they raise the age for retiring to 70? Ha Ha Ha….what they are actually are saying is….’maybe they will be dead by retirement age’. The government is great in the fact that they will give your spouse $1200 to bury you. (That’s if you are willing to be buried in your back yard). I agree with the idea that you get what you put into it. If I paid for 45 years into the pension fund…I should get more than someone who has only been paying into the cpp fund for a couple of years.
      Keep in mind….that the cost of living has multiplied ten fold in the last 30 years. Rents of 1100$ were only 250$ 20 years ago. I wish the government would allow us to live our final days in the style we have earned and are accustomed to. Also keep in mind that society is growing at an unbelievable rate. Cell phones…ipads…etc…were thought of…designed…and built by todays ‘seniors’. Without us ‘old guys’….the youth and business’s of today would have NOTHING!!! I’d also like to see a pension payout. If I put 200 thousand into it in the last 30-40 years….give me back my pension in a bulk payment.. Keep the thousands you have made on the interest and give me back what I paid into it. I probably wont live long enough to spend it anyway. (so you hope)

      Leigh on

      It was always assumed that we should not spend every cent we made thoughout life if we hoped to retire some day. I lived more frugally than many others who blew lots on new cars every few years and indulged in other toys like boats, along with some costly holidays. I retired a few years ago and now live comfortably with free time to enjoy grandkids, friends and life in general. I’m still frugal and very self sufficient. Those who think that “the govenment” should keep them in a style to their liking are being rather selfish as this means they are making a big claim on the income of the younger generation who we hope will continue to raise the next generation etc. Our legacy to them has been a huge debt that they will have to eventually deal with, much like the indentured workers of other societies who inherited the debts of their fathers and grandfathers etc., not something we can be proud of.

Goldiecue on

Why not get rid of the looney and twoney and bring back the paper money that does not weigh down our pockets and handbags? That would be a good thing.

    Leigh on

    One of the reasons that they got rid of the paper one dollar bills etc is that they didn’t last very long a needed replacing about every three or four years on average. The coins will last for decades and are also more useful in machines as they have some real value. When you consider the weight and bulk per dollar, the loonie and twoonie are compact and convenient compared to the equivalent value of other coins.

Barry derby on

I wish Nickel, dime, and quarter, were also discontinued

    Leigh on

    Sure do agree regarding the nickel and dime, might be a bit early for the quarter. One of the issues is how will prices be rounded after tax is calculated.

      CB on

      Tax is calculated before rounding off.

      CB on

      the rest is gravy, also this only applies to cash transactions so you can still have the great 299.99 deals as long as you pay on card or by cheque.

      G.L.B. on

      Does anyone ever use the 50 cent piece any more. I haven’t seen one in quite a few years. I certainly have never gotten one as change.
      Just think about this for a moment. What now is small money (nickels, dimes and pennies) could be replaced by smaller loonies and double loonies to lessen the weight in our pockets.

Barry derby on

I wish Nicole dime and quarter was also discontinued.

    Leigh on

    Who is “Nicole”, and why do you want her discontinued?

Carole Bradbury on

The penny is used for advertising. Would you rather pay for example 2.99 or 3.00.? But I still don’t like pennies and is there a place to recycle these useless things??

Charles Stevenson on

Keep the Penny bring back 1$ &2$ bills go back to gallons and farenheit temperature like the greatest country in the world USA..

    Leigh on

    What possible use is the penny these days other than to fill up jars at home as they aren’t worth carrying in one’s pocket? When I was a kid, a penny would buy a couple of candies but with 65 years of inflation (highest during the Trudeau disaster when it was almost 20% a year) it now is totally worthless. As well as getting rid of the peny, let’s get rid of the nickel too and have all prices rounded off to 10 cents. The ten cent piece today has the value of the penny in the past.

Dave on

Once again they have opened the cookie jar for their already well off friends in business. Bankrupt the country? If we continue to believe that tax breaks and grants to the wealthy are the answer that is exactly what we will do. Job creation? Yeah they create jobs, low paying no benefit part time jobs. Good full time jobs? Those get shut down in Canada and moved to India , Philipines and else where. Take a look at what Telus did. As long as we continue to elect the same old politicians ( I include the NDP) we will have the same result. A shrinking middle class struggling to pay an ever increasing share of running the country.

    Leigh on

    Can you provide specific examples of any of these “tax breaks and grants” that you say are given to the wealthy? I’ve searched for them and never found any.

      EC on

      search: Tax breaks for Canadian Corporations…..enjoy

      Leigh on

      An excellent case can be made to eliminate all income taxes on businesses as long as their income is reinvested in the business to help it grow. Any profits not reinvested are either taxed or paid out to shareholders as normal income, not dividends, and get rid of the special tax treatment of dividends at the same time. The current system benefits bigger established companies and hampers all new and growing ones.

mingthemerciless on

YES!!! Harper must go and be replaced by a socialist that will bankrupt the country like they have done everywhere their Bolshevik cancer have metastazied

    RGC. on

    You’ve forgotten that the Liberals had a surplus. Harper cut the GST twice to give us a deficit. Nice work, Stephen! Now we have had cuts and will have more cuts. All this would be OK if we only had jobs!

      J. Wilson on

      And you’ve forgotten that the Liberals had a surplus because they stole $30 billion from EI to balance their books.

Paul G Lacny on

Housing is a very big issue in the coming years… where are all the poorer residents, the parents, going to live? The government perhaps should look to allowing 1.) Basement suits for parents. 2.) Giving an incentive for the children of these parents to house and look after them (reducing the need for care and long term care homes) 3.) Allowing live in caregivers for this purpose 4.) Helping the younger working children to make a suite for their parents, by paying up front for that suite. After all the cost of a suite, say $ 125,000 can be used up so quickly by government funded care homes.5.) When the parents die, have that suite rented out, to students, at a reasonable price and the funds go back to the government ( after allowance for costs of taxes, heat, water and other extra costs, if the suite was not there—. Keep the aging parents at home—. Not in seniors care homes. Have the children bear the responsibility of caring for their parents- by making the way possible for them to do so. See ephesians 6;2 and luke 18: 20 dealing with giving honor to ones father and mother”

    Arlene McCarthy on

    my brother took my parents into his home. My parents paid for the renovation, then were charged exorbitant rent. when the money was gone he put my mom in a retirement home where they took most of her monthly pension. then he claimed a deductible on his income tax. what prevents this from happening?

      Leigh on

      So Arlene, what were you doing to prevent this? No question, some people like your brother have no ethics but I’d like to hope that most do, at least in regard to their own parents and siblings. I supported my aged parents till each died and now still share in supporting my aged mother in law so she can enjoy a nice place with good care. My brothers didn’t offer to help re my parents, even though one of them espouses leftist dogma and works for the government.

Scott Lindsay on

This is a austerity measure brought on us by the world banks and Harper is in there pocket.The cuts they are making are being redirected towards the increase spending on the military that Harper is planning to do to push us into the North American Union where by we will lose our sovereignty and thereby take our orders by the international banking cartel and mutinational corporations.This is just the begining of what Harper has planned by secretly negociating the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) he is giving Canada away, and that will be the end of our rights and freedom and will be under the total control of the New World Order.HARPER MUST GO!!!!

    Leigh on

    Scott Lindsay, I think you need to put your foil hat back on.

      Alan Little on

      You don’t believe in a new world order? Youtube it. It has been referenced by more than one president….

      barni11 on

      Leigh if you get out of the root cellar you have been living in you might understand what’s been happening over the last ten years. Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest person in the USA, has many times truthfully stated that there was a class war going on and his class was winning – which apparently you missed. Part of the class warfare being waged by the top 10%, their minions and others too blinded by avarice or ignorance to see their hands in front of their faces, involves the dissolution of democratic government and the institution of a world wide hegemony of non democratic institutions serving only the wealthy – the IMF, World Bank, Eurozone, etc. etc. Ethics deals with following the rules; morality, which is the issue here, deals with human, social and spiritual values, which cannot be manipulated like mere “ethics”, are much higher standards than mere watered down, rules. Harper et al are wantonly and obsequiously subservient to Bay Street, Wall Street, and The City (London’s financial/banking centre) and are eliminating democracy for the overrule of the top 10%.

Jo McKay on

I am in the ‘transition’ group; I have also been in the ‘position abolished/downsizing’ groups; while I agree with help for youth to get into the jobs markets – please tell me – dear Government ministers – now that I have to look for work in my 50″s AND am required to work another couple of years beyond 65 – in a employment culture that is ‘all about youth’ HOW do you expect your unemployed ‘mature’ citizens to find decent jobs now. I have been applying for 2 years, and am over qualified, under qualified or too ‘old’ so far; I have spent most of my savings, sold what I could; you are willing to add more responsibility for ‘us’ to work longer, but where are the supports to help us get hired and keep us useful and appreciated in the work force?

    unbelievable on

    Wow! All those years of enjoying Trudeau spending our hard earned money on votes but keeping our taxes down by creating our fantastic new word (deficit). Well this had to happen. Someone has to pay back the piper and cut backs are always at the forfront of our friend the piper.

      John West on

      I agree …. what is happening here now and what needs to happen in the entire western world is the result of decades of entitlement spending and socialist policy. People are now more dependent on government and have been infantilized and feminized, so they cannot stand on their own anymore. A nation of commie wimps to put it plainly. Enjoy, we’ve certainly earned it haven’t we.

Dee on

In my opinion, the government has to limit the immigrants that belongs to short-term elders (landed aged 50-59 years), and immediate elders (landed aged 60 years or older). The immigrants that fall into these two categories should be supported by their immidiate family/sponsors and not by the government.

The Canadian-born and long-term immigrants (landed in Canada aged 40-49 years) should be given full retirement benefits. I think this will be fair and balance.

    jimmy harpoon on

    Being born in Canada means the person is a Canadian not an immigrant.

    Flah Herty on

    Agree – new citizens of retirement age brought here under ‘family reunification’ statues should not automatically qualify for OAP benefits.

abdul muttalib on

The budget lacks long term planning. One example:

Baby boomers like me ( we are about 10 million of them ) will be dieing ( or be in valid or useless burden to the society ) within 20 years. How Canada intend to maintain it,s growth and productivity without the baby boomers.
Canada should have developed a long term strategic plan, beginning 2012, to replace these 10 million baby boomers

1) by increasing immigration to 500,000 per year for next 20 years and

2) investing heavily in the aboriginal communities including education for the kids, housing, sanitation, water, social planning ( drugs etc ) and a sustainable growth plan ( a royal commission headed and managed by an aboriginal leader is needed for 20 years ).

Good luck Canada.

    Leigh on

    Wow, that’s a toxic solution. The current Indian Act has created a horrible dependency on the reserves along with unlimited power of the chiefs who grab all the money for themselves and their friends thus forcing all the rest to beg from them. Anyone wondering why so much of the housing is derelict should note that none of those houses belong to the occupants as all property is commune. The communist system has caused untold misery in the past wherever it was applied so why would we expect anything different on our Indian reserves? The only long term solution is to tear up the Indian Act and financially liquidate the reserves, giving all the funds to the residents of them who can then either buy their own piece of the land and homes or move to a more viable location. Sure, some will fail due to personal problems, same as some fail in society in general but many of these people will finally get some incentives to work toward a future. Those who fail can get help the same as others who do in society in general.

    Flah Herty on

    All the underemployed ‘youth’, presently collecting disability pensions, will be stimulated, by your passing, to take your old job.

    Unless your employer shifts it to Bangladesh or Michigan.

David on

I don’t mind the change with OAS. I am a long way from retirement, and assumed that the government would increase it eventually. The spending cuts seem to be fairly modest in my opinion. thank goodness for the elimination of the penny! I won’t miss having that change in my pocket.

    Joe Ronson on

    I am glad the ! cent is going. I wish the 5 cent will go too.

      Richard on

      Do away with the penny? Rich people won’t! LOL They absolutely LOVE all the fractions of pennies they make playing the stock market etc. Add it all up when you talk Million$ and that’s a lot of dollars that otherwise would be removed from their pockets. No way they want to see the penny go, but they’re sure happy to see everyone else’ GO, as that means more for them. I see someone wants the nickel to go as well? Heck, why not dimes, quarters and loonies? We’ll round off just your money to the nearest twoney! $1.51? You lose 49 cents that the rich get. That would be GREAT eh? Not for me. I like pennies. I’ll carry a few around everyday. gather 100 and that’s ONE DOLLAR… keep it up, and it’s MANY DOLLARS before too long… and we’re going to throw them away? Actually no, we’re going to keep them digitized in the electronic counters where only a “certain” few will get to keep gathering them into their coffers, as you round yours off to the nearest nickel, happily making the rich richer, and yourself poorer. The hilarious part is, everyone seems to be FOR it, as they happily GIVE Million$ away to the wealthy. Instead people should be saying WHOA! That’s 2.49 pennies for every 2.51 penny charge. On a register it works out to 3 cents, and you lose 2 cents. Even at that rate, 50 times 2 = $1.00. The Gov’t is forcing this change, but you can be sure they won’t give up 2 pennies on a nickel. They’ll do like the rich, just more efficient, snatching your money away, and you people won’t even complain? Like once a year, the working public takes an extr $100+ out of their wallet and gives it to Ottawa. Here ya go… we’re sure happy you removed those annoying pennies… her’s my gift of $100+… and I’ll be sure to give you that amount every year from now to eternity, or until you also remove nickels, then I’ll increase my gift to $500! Reversing Robin Hood. Take from the Poor and give to the Rich. Not only has this gone on for centuries, but now the poor are saying YES!! Rob Us!! Unreal….

      Leigh on

      Richard, you really do need to learn a little bit about economics.

    dewayne gower on

    Canada the government will never give up spending our money in a foolish maner.1 billion a month??? its easy to spend others peoples money, get a grip.

    R. Ostrow on

    I’m glad you don’t mind the changes coming. By time you retire…there will be no money left for your pension… go out and buy a piggy bank….because that will be your pension.
    The change I would like to see is the fact that there is a 28 week waiting period before the government processes a GIS…(guaranteed income supplement) for pensioners who are trying to eke out a half decent meal. The explanation Services Canada gives is ‘we are short staffed and thats how long it takes.”.
    Hire more people!!!
    People don’t think about this but when you retire…and you are accustomed to making two or three thousand dollars a month…and then you retire…..the amount pension pays is about the same as one week’s pay at your old job. Keep in mind also that if you are retiring now….you have been paying into it for a heck of a lot longer than a person who has only been working for 4-5 years. I just retired and have been paying into it since day one. Now I have to live on what welfare pays. Just makes me wonder if Canada is as rich as they advertise overseas.

    tick on

    David….start saving now cuz the well be dry when you retire

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