OTTAWA – Canadians would pick a tax hike over waving goodbye to freedom 65 when it comes to pension reform, a new survey suggests.
A poll by Abacus Data indicates 57% of Canadians support keeping the age of eligibility for Old Age Security at 65 even if it means cutting spending to other social programs or a bump in income tax.
And roughly half of Canadians oppose the plan to raise the OAS retirement age to 67 from 65.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Friday in an interview with Postmedia he was considering boosting the age of eligibility for OAS – but details are only expected be revealed in the spring budget.
Harper argues OAS is unsustainable and needs reforms to ensure it’s there for future generations.
Opposition parties accuse the prime minister of manufacturing a crisis and argue reforms would adversely effect the poorest seniors.
Bungling the divisive reforms also stands to hit Conservatives where it hurts – by alienating their core supporters.
“This could really piss off this group they’ve tried to build support with,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto on Friday.
The group most opposed to the changes were those with retirement in their sights – Canadians aged 45-to-59.
The pollster noted the Conservatives have spent years currying favour with Canadians in their mid-thirties and into their 60s with tax breaks and targeted policies – “a boatload of goodies” in Coletto’s words.
“They’re upsetting the boomers – and that’s a very powerful group,” he said.
The government has said no current retirees, or those nearing retirement, would be effected by reforms to the OAS.
There were 1,209 respondent to the online survey conducted between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated, but a poll of 1,209 people would usually be reliable within 2.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.