Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 11 

Premier Ralph Klein was challenged at a senior's centre Thursday for his government's cuts to the programs for older people. "You've got a lot of nerve coming here after what you did to us," said a retired civil servant. "I served my country (as a soldier) and faithfully as a Government Servant for 28 years. I was hoping for a decent retirement." He estimated his cost of living has risen 30% or more because of the cuts made to seniors' benefits and programs by the Conservatives since 1992.

Klein was visiting the centre as an early launch to the International Year of the Older Persons, a global designation in 1999 intended to promote respect for older people. The premier credited seniors for their role in developing the province. "We owe much of our quality of life today to our seniors." He said during a speech at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization. Lethbridge Herald, Oct. 2, 98

Any of us could have written the dignitaries' speeches for the Edmonton kickoff of the United Nations International Year of Older Persons (IYOP). They were all about recognition of seniors' contribution to the community; strengthening our reputation around the world as a caring society.

The most sensible statement came from white-haired Rose Rosenberger; on behalf of Mayor Bill Smith. "Why should we have to do this?" Indeed why should this be necessary? Hazel Wilson, Past President of Retired and Semi Retired believes, "Society generally doesn't respect seniors."

So what would we like other than a declaration and soothing words? For starters, if the city would reinstate free bus passes for seniors who need them. Don't send Shirley McClellan's representative to tell us how great seniors are. Give us what is rightfully ours, not fancy words and UN flags. If nothing locally, provincially or federally changes, then I make my own proclamation. I hereby nominate 1999 as year of SITS (Sock It To Seniors). If governments would give us what we need, what we paid for and what is rightfully ours, Rose Rosenberger could be right. We wouldn't need to do this. November, 1998, Edith Kirby, EJ

The Members of the Legislative Assembly set an example by taking a 5% reduction in pay(1993-94), which was followed by our government imposing a similar reduction in pay percentage for public sector employees. Many seniors lost benefits that were provided to all seniors, well in excess of the percentage lost by MLAs and public sector workers.

Now that most public sector employees have received, through the collective bargaining process, the 5% in lost pay together with further increase in pay when the new collective agreements have been signed. Now that the governing party has retroactively to Oct. 1 returned the Members of the Legislative Assembly the said 5% in pay. Now that your government will be providing all MLAs with future pay adjustments that will be tied to the annual change in the average weekly earnings of Albertans as reported by Statistics Canada. The first of such adjustments to commence April 1, 1999. The MLAs' severance pay (initially implemented as a re-location allowance) will be doubled to a maximum two year's salary or more than $115,000.

Once raises take effect will the Premier please tell those thousands of seniors who lost full or partial benefits. Benefits that were enjoyed by all Alberta seniors when they can expect to be treated as fairly as the employees in the public sector, and MLAs. When will they have their reduced or eliminated benefits returned to them? SM Marlowe, Oct 13, 98, EJ

A federal advisory body wants the government to cut RRSP tax breaks for richer Canadians to pay for an increase in old age security for the poor. Contrary to popular opinion, the war on poverty among seniors is not yet over, " the National Council on Welfare said in a report Monday.

"The sad truth about the last several years is that most governments have been more interested in extracting money from seniors than helping them maintain a decent standard of living." Even the CPP and QP plans which were designed to replace up to 25% of earnings up to the average industrial wage, are not enough to keep most seniors out of poverty, it said.

Employer pension plans and RRSPs work well, the council said, but only for those who have access to or can afford them. Just over 40% of employees are covered by company pension plans, a proportion that drops steadily to only 4 % for those earning under $10 000 a year. Aug 24, 99, Ottawa, Southam News

Nations need to do more to protect their older citizens and to involve them in all aspects of life, a global gathering on aging declared Wednesday at the close of the three-day conference. The declaration adopted by the Fourth Global Conference of the Montreal based International Federation on Aging calls on the United Nations to declare a "Decade of Older Persons" and for each member state to adopt a national plan on aging. September 9, 99, The Montreal Gazette

OTTAWA GIVES SENIORS A $135 RAISE ON Jan. 1st FEW SENIORS WILL GET $135 PENSION INCREASE Ottawa is not giving seniors an increase of $135 as suggested in a headline Jan. 1. The only people who will get that increase in the CPP are those who retire in 2000 after contributing the maximum every year since the plan started.

In eight years as a volunteer senior financial adviser, I never met one. The more likely increase will be $90 or 1.8% for the majority of seniors with low incomes. Seniors with no other income will get an increase of 2% in their supplement. Only 4% of Alberta seniors get the maximum supplement. Residential phone rates and natural gas prices have both increased at higher rates so seniors will have less discretionary income.

Seniors with incomes over $26,000 per year have their old age security reduced according to their income levels. The Alberta government adds some money but that is reduced as seniors get income from other sources. Supplemental incomes are reduced at rates up to 90% for sums that seniors generate for their own resources. These penalties in excess of the highest income rates in Canada encourage seniors at low-income levels to get rid of their assets. That is bad policy practiced by both federal and Alberta levels of government, December 31, 1999, Bill Daly, EJ

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