Seniors Occupy Conservative MP Offices To Protest Changes To OAS Eligibilty
"Scores of labour activists and seniors started occupying the offices of Conservative MPs in Ontario Thursday afternoon to protest possible changes in the retirement income system.
Supporters of a so-called “Blue-Grey” Alliance entered and stayed in the constituency offices of 20 MPs in the province including the one for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
Spokesmen for the group said they did not know how long the occupations would continue beyond Thursday.
“Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper will soon know he will have the biggest fight of his life on his hands if he tries to go forward with any of this,” said Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan, who joined a sit-in at Flaherty’s office in Whitby, east of Toronto.
The Old Age Security (OAS) program became a hot issue last month when Harper suggested in a speech at an economic forum in Davos, Switzerland that Canada is considering changes.
Harper did not refer to OAS but there is some speculation that the government would look at raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 to control rising program costs.
Orville Thacker, president of the Ontario Federation of Union Retirees, said in a statement that they are “fed up” with the Harper government undermining the rights of women, workers and now vulnerable seniors.
“He’s about to learn the same lesson that seniors taught two Prime Ministers before him: if you touch seniors’ rights, you do so at your own peril,” he said.
Thacker added the majority of seniors are living on $25,000 a year or less after paying a lifetime of taxes.
“OAS pensions are what pays for food and rent for seniors living on fixed incomes and it helps others get by with a little bit of dignity,” he said.
In addition to the occupations in Ontario, activists and retirees plan to hold sit-ins at three MP offices in New Brunswick. Support groups also held a noon hour rally in St.John’s Newfoundland."