"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world,                     and that is an idea whose time has come."

Victor Hugo

April 26, 2018

The NDP Private Member’s Bill needs your help

Since MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) introduced her Private Member’s Bill (PMB) in February (see news item below), both MP Mathyssen and our Coalition have been taking action to garner support for it

The Coalition has met with Conservative MP Dan Albas, a member of the important Standing Committee on Finance. We met for nearly two hours and provided MP Albas with material about the coalition’s goals as well as an in-depth financial analysis showing the real cost of the legislative change

Other Conservative MPs are now aware of the unfair legislation having been contacted by their constituents during our mail campaign.

MP Irene Mathyssen has written to Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, reminding him that our country still has archaic and unfair legislation that denies pensions to surviving spouses. She also pointed out that the Liberals promised to take steps to undo the legislation but have done nothing.

You can read MP Mathyssen’s letter to the Hon. Scott Brison here.

How can you help?

The Coalition believes that the Liberal government must be reminded that the issue matters to all Canadians. Therefore we fully endorse the NDP petition urging government to support MP Irene Mathyssen’s Private Member’s Bill.

We hope you will help by collecting a few signatures. It does not matter what party your MP belongs to, and it doesn’t matter if you are only able to collect a handful of names from around your neighbourhood. Every name helps.

You will find a copy of the NDP petition here.

February 16, 2018

NDP introduces comprehensive Private Member’s Bill

On February 13 NDP MP Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe) introduced a Private Member’s Bill (C-397) to change the various pieces of legislation that deny pensions for surviving spouses. The legislation uses either of two archaic rationales: that the marriage took place after the date of retirement or it took place after the retiree turned 60. 

You can find the NDP Press Release here

You can find the text of the Private Member’s Bill here.

November 30, 2017

The Coalition needs your story in a personalized mail campaign


Background

During the election campaign in 2015, we advised Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau about the need to change unfair legislation that deprives surviving spouses of pensions. He told us: “A secure and comfortable retirement is essential to achieving middle-class success, and Liberals believe that the federal government must do more to fulfill this promise.”

Unfortunately, it appears that Liberals are better at making promises than keeping them. Indeed, a recent letter from the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, indicates this government may be satisfied with the status quo.

Minister Brison’s letter and our response are posted in the news feature below.

We will continue to pressure the Government, but there is a powerful force that only you can exert, which is the impact of your story told in your words. It is important for you to write a personal letter to your Member of Parliament and describe how you and your spouse feel about the unfair legislation. If you have already been denied a pension, your MP needs to understand the adverse impact it has had on your life.

Some questions you may have


Does it matter if my MP is not a Liberal?

No. In fact, it would be a very good thing if your letter helps to get an opposition party pushing for this change. The opposition parties are able to pressure government stronger than anyone else, but first they need to hear from you.

Will some ridings have more impact than others?

Every riding is important to get our message heard in Ottawa.

However, MPs in some ridings may be more motivated to help. For example, in 14 ridings the Liberals won with very thin margins in 2015. We assume, with an election less than two years away, these MPs will want to be seen as supporting something good.

And there are MPs in other ridings, such as Party Leaders and members of shadow Cabinets. We believe that, with an election only two years away, those MPs will want issues like ours to be raised in the House.

Where do I get information about these ridings?

To get those details you just click here.

What about surviving spouses who have already been denied pensions?

We feel strongly about that injustice. While our Government dragged its feet, many more surviving spouses have been left destitute. If you are one, you should write to your MP.

We want government to provide pensions for surviving spouses like you, who have already been denied, but your MP won’t understand why if your story isn’t heard.

Where’s the form letter?

We don’t believe form letters have much impact.

To an MP, an identical letter from a hundred people is the same as one letter, and it has very little influence. However, when an MP gets even a few personal letters, the words are meaningful and significantly increase the chances of getting action.

Do not tell yourself: “I won’t bother. Others will write.” With that approach, the coalition cannot succeed. Remember: You have a lot at stake.

Can I get help writing my letter?

Yes. We are pleased to provide a guide that you can find here.

I heard the NDP has a Private Member’s Bill on this issue. Is that true?

Yes, and we are pleased to have assisted with its creation.

The NDP are fully committed to changing this unfair legislation in all the Acts and they should get everyone’s support. Urge your MP to support the NDP Private Member’s Bill introduced by MP Irene Mathyssen (London – Fanshawe).

What about the media?

You should send a copy of your letter to you local paper. With the issue in enough local papers, it should have a good chance of being picked up by the national papers as well as radio and television.

The Liberal Government needs to be asked publicly why, as a government who claims to be dedicated to eliminating poverty among seniors, they continue to cause that poverty by depriving seniors of pensions.

What will it cost to send letters to MPs?

Nothing. When you write to any Member of Parliament you do not require any postage. Our suggestion is to print “No Postage Required” where you would normally put a stamp.

November 14, 2017

The Liberals and Surviving Spouse Legislation
…so far, very disappointing

Our coalition began its major thrust during the election campaign in 2015. During the campaign we received a letter from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, which gave us hope. That hope was reinforced when the Liberals formed government and we corresponded and met with various senior ministerial representatives.

Early in 2016 the Prime Minister directed the Minister of Veterans Affairs to fix this issue in the military plan. We felt this would be an important first step in fixing all the plans but, after nearly two years, nothing has changed. It seems that this government is better at making promises than keeping them.

We wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau with our concerns and we stressed: “…there is a matter of urgency. As time passes with this issue unresolved, even more seniors will be driven into poverty when their pensioned spouses die”. We outlined a plan that would also provide pensions for those who have already been denied a pension. However, the PMO referred our letter to various Ministers.

The response from the Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, indicates this government may think the status quo is fine. Although Minister Brison promised to consider our suggestions as part of the ongoing modernization of federal public sector pension plans, he included troubling assertions.

The letter from Minister Brison can be found here and our response can be found here.

September 16, 2016

Correspondence with Minister of Status of Women

We believe that forcing spouses into poverty is largely a gender issue as it mostly affects women, and we believe that it is a health matter because low-income individuals have higher rates of morbidity and mortality. Poverty also has a compounding effect on health by exacerbating other social determinants of health such as housing, food security and social exclusion.

We wrote to the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women, who recognizes that far too many women continue to face income inequalities, and we are pleased that her ministry is focussed on supporting economic security for women.

We are also pleased that Minister Hajdu has shared our letter with the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. He is responsible for the financial security of seniors and we believe he should be sensitive to the issue.

You can read our letter to Minister Hajdu here.

You can read Minister Hajdu’s response here.


April 4, 2016

 Meetings with Government Officials

Since Parliament convened January 25th, a Director of the Coalition, based in Ottawa, has met with Chiefs of Staff, Policy Advisors and other key personnel in five ministries including the Treasury Board and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Presenting written documentation, we laid out the reasons why the gross unfairness must be corrected through enabling amendments to existing laws. We have been well received; our issue is understood; and we’ve received commitments of support.


March 8, 2016

Commander Terry Goddard, Ret’d

We are saddened to advise that Terry Goddard passed away March 3, 2016 at age 94. He was our friend and an important advisor to our coalition.

Commander Terry Goddard was a WWII hero with an impressive list of achievements as a warrior and leader in many battles over several campaigns. He was forced down at sea twice. Terry was also one of the incredibly brave navy flyers who participated in the famous “Swordfish Attack” on the German battleship Bismarck in 1941.

To put this high seas drama in perspective, the Swordfish was a biplane (yes, a biplane) typically used as a torpedo bomber against Nazi U-boats. In June 1941 the brave Swordfish aviators flew 15 of these aircraft directly into furious barrages from the guns of the Bismarck, the most powerful battleship the world had ever seen.

One of their torpedoes hit the Bismarck’s rudder, seriously affecting its ability to steer. This damage allowed Royal Navy warships, along with more torpedo attacks, to sink the Bismarck.

After the sinking, the British Board of the Admiralty stated, “…there can be no doubt that had it not been for the gallantry, skill, and devotion to duty of the Fleet Air Arm in both Victorious and Ark Royal, our objective might not have been achieved.”

When our coalition began, Terry had already spent years single-handedly fighting the legislation that now denies a pension to his wife of 30 years. He was happy that others had joined the fight on behalf of the military as well as all others affected by similar legislation.


January 8, 2016

Supportive words from the CLC

This is a significant development that the coalition should seize. 

The ministerial mandate letter (not an election promise, but instructions to the Minister and cabinet and a public commitment) indicates that the PM "will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes, including our first Budget, to deliver on your top priorities", including eliminating the 'marriage after 60' clause.  

In my opinion, a big step achieved by the coalition to quickly build upon. 

Chris Roberts
Director, Social and Economic Policy
Canadian Labour Congress

January 4, 2016

A Great Start to 2016

We are pleased to announce a major achievement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has included the following goal in his mandate for the Hon. Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence:

“Eliminate the “marriage after 60” clawback clause, so that surviving spouses of veterans receive appropriate pension and health benefits.”

We are writing to Minister Hehr to offer our assistance. We are also communicating with other Ministers and the Prime Minister about additional Acts requiring similar attention.