Is Cutting Off Inmate Old Age Security a Good Idea?





The Old Age Security (OAS) Pension is a monthly benefit available to most Canadians 65 years of age or older who meet the Canadian legal status and residence requirements. You must apply to receive benefits.

On December 16, 2010, Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (also known as the Eliminating Entitlements for Prisoners Act) was signed into law. This law prevents federal prisoners over the age of 65 from receiving Old Age Security (OAS) Pensions while incarcerated.

The law applies to federal inmates serving sentences longer than two years and saves taxpayers two million dollars each year. The law also allows for the provinces to work with the federal government to deny OAS Pensions to provincial inmates serving sentences longer than 90 days, which would save taxpayers another eight million dollars.

The incentive behind passing this law stemmed from concerns about Clifford Olson, one of Canada’s most prolific serial killers convicted in the rape and murder of 11 boys and girls who was collecting $1200/month as part of his federal OAS pension after reaching 65 years of age. Since the law came into force, Mr. Olson’s OAS Pension has since been revoked along with another thousand inmates’ OAS Pensions across Canada.

Many right-wing minded folks would praise this law saying that this is what we were waiting for. After all, its “tough on crime” impact teaches lessons to those who can’t live by societal rules. It also puts money back into the public purse that would otherwise line the pockets of inmates; those very same people who get three square meals a day, free dental, free room and board, free education and free entertainment at the expense of the taxpayers.

I’m not advocating that killers like Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo should receive OAS Pensions after the age of 65. However, cutting these pensions off to all inmates over 65 years of age could deprive those convicted with lesser offences from receiving OAS Pension money too. Lets face it, not all senior inmates are murderers and rapists. In fact, most of these inmates will be back on the street within a few years after serving time for their crimes, many of whom are non-violent offenders. If OAS Pensions are cut off to all senior inmates, what are the chances of these inmates obtaining their financial footing upon release? It could lead to an endless cycle where upon release from prison, the inmate(s) either go on welfare out of financial desperation to make ends meet, or end up in prison again, both costly to the taxpaying public.

This law could end up costing Canadians more money than paying the OAS pensions. It has only been 5 month since the law came into force, but it will be interesting to see how the economics play out.



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