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e-3189 (Social affairs and equality)

Initiated by Richard Côté from Saint-Léonard-de-Portneuf, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • It is important to respect and support those who built today’s society;
  • The name “Old Age Security pension” is derogatory for a certain segment of the population;
  • This program was named in 1952, almost 70 years ago;
  • Life expectancy in Canada is increasing;
  • In 1951, the average life expectancy for Canadians was about 68 years, and statistics show that in 2018 Canadians were living an average of 81 years; and
  • It is discriminatory to state that an individual becomes old on their 65th birthday.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, electors of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, and residents of the Province of Quebec, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Remove “old age” from the name of the “Old Age Security pension” program by consulting the Canadian organizations that represent these citizens; and
2. Modernize and change the program’s name to make it more respectful and dignified for these individuals.

Response by the Minister of Seniors

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Deb Schulte

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is the first pillar of Canada’s retirement income system. The benefits under the OAS program include the OAS pension, which is paid to all persons aged 65 or over who meet the residence requirements, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors, and the Allowances for low-income Canadians aged 60 to 64 who are the spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or who are widows or widowers.

The term “old age” has been associated with the name of programs for Canadian seniors since the introduction of the Old Age Pensions Act in 1927, and its successor, the Old Age Security Act of 1952. Originally, the OAS pension was paid to eligible Canadians 70 years of age or older but the eligibility was gradually expanded to include all those aged 65 and above, then later raised to 67 in Budget 2012 and restored to 65 in Budget 2016. 

The Government has reviewed this issue in the past and has recognized that some seniors may infer that by removing the phrase “old age” from the program title, the Government is suggesting that there is a negative connotation with being older. Some terms can be considered more neutral than others that can sound stigmatizing to some people. For example, “elder” has a distinct cultural meaning for Indigenous communities in Canada. The advantages of changing the name must be weighed against its strong name recognition and how many Canadians identify with it in a positive manner. 

The Minister of Seniors recognizes the contributions older generations have made to Canadian society and respect the perspectives of those who may describe their age differently.

One of the current work priorities of the National Seniors Council (NSC), whose mandate is to advise the Government of Canada on all matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors, is to focus on shifting the public discourse on older people and aging. The NSC will examine how older people and aging are depicted (e.g., by governments, in media, or by individuals) in order to propose strategies to counteract ageism, empower older people and change the way people perceive the aging process.

Open for signature
February 24, 2021, at 5:54 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 25, 2021, at 5:54 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Joël Godin (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier)
May 4, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00909)
Government response tabled
June 17, 2021
Photo - Joël Godin
Conservative Caucus