Pensions in Canada are leaving seniors in poverty

In July most seniors on Candian Pension Plan (CPP) saw an increase of only $12 to $16 a month – not enough

It is hard for many of us to imagine that Finch Avenue was once a dirt road, lined with countless apple orchards. Back then, the City of Toronto was much smaller. The area was known for its farmland and cottage country bungalows. Those who remember those days would have been contributing to their Canadian Pension Plan for decades before retiring.

Many of our neighbours have lived in the Downsview area for over 40 years, making them the original homeowners. While they are retired now, they continue to be active leaders on their own streets and at local community centres.

The CPP was created in the 1960’s as a response to people living longer and the rising level of poverty conditions for seniors at that time. The Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement were added to ensure a base level of income for all seniors. The system was designed to protect people from destitution in their old age and to give them both dignity in life and dignity in their hard-earned retirement. 

Today, our system is not keeping up with the realities of modern life. Most young people are aware of the difficulties of buying a home in the current real estate market. What many people do not realize yet, however, is the difficulty that many seniors are facing as rents rise. To illustrate the problem, a person living off of CPP and OAS could very well make $20,000 a year. A one-bedroom apartment in our neighbourhood now costs around $1500 per month, or $18,000 per year. Many who rely on their pensions live on the knife’s edge of poverty. 

Pensions go up on July 1 of every year, but most seniors only saw a monthly increase of $12-$16 per month. With real estate prices sky-rocketing and rents following suit, many seniors can barely afford their homes anymore in addition to keeping up with other living expenses. The problem is likely to get worse, as we are the only major country without a plan to deal with the realities of an aging population. 

The beauty of Canada has been its caring disposition, tolerance and acceptance. This is what makes our country one of the best places to live, and has created some of the highest standards of living in the world. That being said, the current government has done little to change make life affordable for seniors and they have no plans of making any significant changes. Seniors have it too hard and we are not doing enough to help them.

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