Playing by the rules

Hard-working Canadians who contribute to the system and play by the rules deserve government benefits such as Old Age Security (OAS). The purpose of the OAS program, consisting of the OAS basic pension, the GIS and the Allowances, provides income support to Canadian seniors and is meant as a measure of partial income security in recognition of the contributions seniors have made to Canadian society, the economy and their communities. The OAS basic pension is paid to individuals 65 or older who meet the residence requirements.

Hard-working Canadians who contribute to the system and play by the rules deserve government benefits such as Old Age Security (OAS). The purpose of the OAS program, consisting of the OAS basic pension, the GIS and the Allowances, provides income support to Canadian seniors and is meant as a measure of partial income security in recognition of the contributions seniors have made to Canadian society, the economy and their communities. The OAS basic pension is paid to individuals 65 or older who meet the residence requirements.

As prison inmates’ basic needs, such as food and shelter, are met and paid by public funds, it is wrong and obviously unfair that these inmates receive OAS entitlements. On December 15, 2010, our Harper government’s Bill C-31 “An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act)” received Royal Assent. This amendment would terminate OAS benefits for convicted criminals sentenced to more than two years in federal penitentiaries and more than 90 days in provincial and territorial institutions. The proposed amendments will suspend OAS benefit payments the month following incarceration and reinstate the individual’s OAS benefit payments the month the individual is released. Further suspension of OAS benefits, will only be subject where, for example, the parole or statutory release has been revoked.

In the first stage, following Royal Assent, the amendments to the OAS Act will be implemented at the federal level. In the second stage, Information Sharing Agreements (SA’s) will be negotiated with the provinces and territories, before legislative changes applicable to provincial and territorial inmates can be implemented. Once an SA is in place, the suspension of benefit payments will be extended to a person who has been sentenced to a term exceeding 90 days in prison.

Our Conservative government will work with the provinces and territories to continue implementation in provincial and territorial institutions for criminals serving sentences of greater than 90 days. We are taking action to put an end to entitlements for prisoners and ensure that only those Canadians who have spent their lives working hard and playing by the rules receive the benefits they deserve.