Harper announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland that his Conservative government would be bringing in “major transformations” to the retirement pension system, immigration, science funding, and the energy sector but left no concrete plans on how these changes would take place. The opposition charged that his retirement changes would financially cripple millions of Canadian seniors.
With Harper looking for savings, the Canadian government will soon be gradually raising the retirement age from 65 to 67.
“We have already taken steps to limit the growth of our health-care spending over that period,” said Stephen Harper. “We must do the same for our retirement income system.”
In 2010, retirement cost $36.5 billion which is expected to climb to $48 billion by 2015. Currently there are 4.7 million seniors who will rely on the Old Age Security system and that number is expected to nearly double to 9.3 million at a cost of $108 billion by 2030.
The NDP came out in firm opposition claiming that investing $700 million would make the system more sustainable and not require the age change.
“That’s completely unacceptable. If he had run on that platform last May, he wouldn’t have the numbers he has in the House he has today,” NDP finance critic Peter Julian said.
“If he’s serious about the demographic shift, he should listen to evidence and invest in hospital beds, not prison beds,” said Liberal critic Scott Brison.
“It would be a very regressive step to cut or restrict OAS at a time when income inequality is growing issue.”
Exporting Canadian oil and energy sources beyond the US and specifically to Asia will become a “national priority.” No plan was announced but as it stands, Harper and Natural Resources minister Joe Oliver are slamming opponents of the $5.5 billion Northern Gateway project which would build a pipeline through environmentally sensitive lands to prepare for export. It turns out that the Harper government may have explaining to do when it comes to having independent bodies become their spin machine.
Harper said that our immigration system will face “significant reform.”
“We will ensure that, while we respect our humanitarian obligations and family reunification objectives, we make our economic and labor force needs the central goal of our immigration efforts in the future.”
Harper said that his government plans to continue investing in the sciences – while Environment Canada reels from Harper’s attack. “But we believe that Canada’s less-than-optimal results for those investments is a significant problem for our country.”
Expect a Canada-European Union free trade agreement this year as Harper intends to open our markets.
The government will also try to tap into Asia’s emerging market and make a Trans-Pacific Partnership.
By the end of 2013, Harper hopes to have established a free trade agreement with India.