FACE TO FACE: Should the feds raise Canadians' pension eligibility to 67 years?
OK. We get the Canada pension math. Pensions will cost Canada more in the future.
Yes, we know that today, four people are working for every Canadian collecting a pension and that soon there will be only two people working for every pensioner.
We understand that baby boomers are living too long - sorry - the population is aging, the pension system will be broke, the fiscal sky is falling, yada yada yada
We get the math. I'm sure Canadians would be willing to have a rational discussion about how to address the imminent increase in the cost of Canada pensions.
Unfortunately, we weren't asked.
Instead, Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to impress the International community (ahem, the U.S.) with his fiscal prudence, gleefully trying to out-conservative the Americans by announcing plans to cut the cost of Canadian pensions.
"Oh, didn't I mention this to you Canadians? Oops, silly me. I was going to tell you soon, honest."
How spectacularly inappropriate and disrespectful Prime Minister Harper's grandstanding was to Canadian seniors.
But although Canadians get the pension math, there is some other math for us to consider before joining the chorus of congratulations to Harper for having the "courage" to finally bring up Canada's funding of pensions. ("Long overdue. I should say so!")
His suggestion that we raise pension qualification from age 65 to 67 would save the government $2 billion to $3 billion per year.
Leaving Afghanistan would save Canada $1 billion to $2 billion per year.
Abandoning the build-more-prisons scheme would save $10 billion in capital costs and $93,000 per inmate, per year, in operating costs.
Scrapping the F35 bomber purchase (as Australia and other nations are poised to do) would save Canada at least $35 billion.
Re-thinking corporate tax cuts could save $13.7 billion per year - per percentage point.
Let's see. Fulfilling our commitment to our seniors, funding health care, science and technology and environmental initiatives? Or throwing money at American wars and bombers, building prisons and pipelines, establishing an Office of Religious Freedom and giving more tax cuts to the rich?
Hmm tough call? Not for Stephen Harper.
Face to Face columnist Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and principal who lives in Port Moody. He has contributed a number of columns on education-related issues to The Tri-City News.