Ruby Dhalla’s Bill Isn’t About Poverty. It’s About Immigrants

Raphael Alexander: Ruby Dhalla's bill isn't about poverty, it's about immigrants

Posted: October 01, 2009, 11:30 AM by NP Editor
Full Comment, Raphael Alexander

The Conservatives have expressed their opposition to Ruby Dhallas private members bill that would allow immigrant seniors to qualify for Old Age Security after spending just three years here. We are committed to fighting this every step of the way, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said publicly. It should be easy for the Conservatives to defeat this one, even if the Human Resources Minister is being somewhat misleading in her comments for what the bill actually represents:

They are saying they believe its not fair that people who have come here and been here for only three years would be able to access the same Old Age Security benefits that people who have been contributing to our economy and society for many years are able to receive.

Well, thats not entirely true. And its also not a Liberal bill, [although it may be widely endorsed by them] as such is the nature of private member bills. It was the same scenario when MP Keith Martin proposed a private members motion to repeal section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, when the rest of the Liberal party disagreed with him. The advantage of this kind of system is that it allows members of Parliament to introduce legislation without the support of their political party, or risk it being chanced on a vote of confidence.

Ruby Dhallas bill would allow immigrant seniors, many of whom are sponsored under a federal immigration law commonly known as the reunification program, who have lived in the country for three years to qualify for partial OAS [Old Age Security] benefits estimated at $38.77 a month, and not the $516.96 maximum for Canadian-born seniors or immigrants with 40 years of residency.

Although this bill is buried deep behind 127 other private member bills, it could find interest from the other opposition parties and fellow Liberals that would push it to the front. Ruby Dhalla believes it would cost Ottawa an additional $300 million per year, while the Conservatives say it would cost more than double that number.

Even Ms. Dhalla isnt surprised at being accused of pandering to her demographic. She represents an ethnically Sikh and East Indian riding in Brampton-Springdale, and the family reunification program is a reason why the population has exploded in Brampton and Mississauga in recent years. She maintains she isnt pandering for votes or to her ethnicity, but trying to raise seniors out of poverty.

But thats difficult to believe, given the nature of her bill. She isnt seeking to raise seniors out of poverty, just seniors who are immigrants. Most, if not all, of these seniors will contribute nothing toward OAS, unlike the vast majority of other seniors in Canada have over their working lives. And perhaps worst of all, the stipulations in the family sponsorship program are quite clear about the financial responsibilities that sponsors bear for their elderly parents.

Sponsors must promise to provide the basic requirements for the sponsored parent or grandparent, a signed agreement that confirms the contractual obligations of the sponsor. People must also provide evidence of income able to support such a person, a rule that is based entirely upon maintaining the onus of financial burden upon the family, not the country of Canada. After all, Canada is gracious and humanitarian enough to allow a person with no possibility of contributing to the economy to come into the country in the first place, a move that is entirely altruistic in nature. It could be deemed greedy at this point to demand that not only do we let in the elderly parents of immigrants, but also pay for their upkeep. That isnt the terms of the agreement to which every sponsor agreed.

Let us not forget that these elderly immigrants already take up their fair share of the social security burden to which they have not contributed, when it comes to hospitals and medical care. Patient waiting lists have increased in Ruby Dhallas riding, as well as scarcity of hospital beds, because of the associated health risks that come with sponsoring elderly people to Canada.

Three years is also a very short amount of time to spend in Canada before receiving this supplementary income for people who, given their age and proclivity to stay within their ethnic neighbourhoods, will never even become Canadian citizens. It isnt just about the fact that it would only cost $38.77 per senior per month on this plan, but the principle of honouring the terms of the sponsorship program. A person who has lived in Canada for a decade, even having contributed nothing in taxes, can arguably say they are deserving of a share of OAS as a portion of their residency in this country. But let us not forget that allowing non-working people in Canada is, in the first place, a humanitarian benefit provided to family members of the immigrant in the first place. Ms. Dhalla should tread lightly upon the generosity of Canadians, lest we begin to evaluate the utility to Canada for the sponsorship of seniors in the first place.

National Post

Raphael Alexander is a Vancouver-based blogger. Read more here.

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by Sassylassie
Oct 01 2009
12:23 PM

Nicely articulated Sandy, our seniors live below the poverty line in Canada it is not fair to expect them to merely exist whilst giving immigrants a portion of their pension to pander for the ethnic vote. Frankly the reunification program is a burden on Canadian taxpayers, it's time for that program to go away. Our healthcare system cannot support the mass influx of immigrants, at the current rate we are heading for financial ruin.

by crocodile dundee
Oct 01 2009
12:23 PM

Only $300 million a year, eh Dhalla!! Isn't it great that you can just throw Canadian taxpayer funds away in order to buy votes? These people shouldn't see a penny!! Health care is in a shambles due to the large influx of non-contributing immigrants, we don't need more of our hard earned dollars being thrown at them.

by hoppy96
Oct 01 2009
12:27 PM

Doesn't sponsrship mean just that – you sponser the person, which means you agree to support that person? Period.

by charming11
Oct 01 2009
12:45 PM

Hey Ruby, do the math! $300 million in a country of 10 million equals additional debt of $10 per person, so a single mother of 2 will be taxed an additional $30 to bring in your ethnic relatives. Or a father of four and his wife will be on the hook for an additional $60. Cheaper if you sent your relatives back, nes pas?

by Straightup
Oct 01 2009
12:47 PM

Liberals = vote buying

All politicians do it but the libs have a nack for doing stuff that will underpin the nation.

Giving criminals, those that inhabit our prisons the right to vote. Only 'L'iberal would push such a thing.

by Ascalepius
Oct 01 2009
12:48 PM

It isn't about poverty—it isn't about immigrants—it is about Ruby's reelection and nothing more.

She is pandering to her ethnic constituency who vote en mass, heavily influenced by their temples…having taken part at polling stations in the region over the decades, it has been more than evident that Elections Canada turns a blind eye to those who cast votes without proper documentation and identification.

Sponsorship means sponsorship and those that sponsor should be legally liable for those that they sponsor…they should also take out health insurance to lessen the burden on the all too patient and over tolerant Canadian taxpayer.

by Anonymous66
Oct 01 2009
1:01 PM

Not acceptable. The rest of the party better not take her side, or my vote is gone.

Regarding the other private member's bill mentioned here … go Keith Martin!

by RogersJi
Oct 01 2009
1:36 PM

Down with Dhalla's bill but bring back Reform now Liberal MP Keith Martin's bill to delete section 13.

Go look at some of the 200 or so private members' bills that are listed on the parliament's website. Many are stupid ideas and most are just vote getters.

by Dare_Balo
Oct 01 2009
1:42 PM

So long as Canada insists on having a welfare state which robs one individual to pay another; so long as socialized medicine exists alongside government schools and government hospitals (all of which are massive, criminal violations of individual rights); so long as some liberals, conservatives, and others who will hypocritically claim they are not in either category, believe in the cannibalistic ideal which gives rise to statism, Canada will continue her moral and political rot.

Those who agree with the morality of altruism have no moral authority by which to criticize, much less stop, Dhalla's bill.

Either each of us is free, or none of us are.

by Fred_001
Oct 01 2009
1:42 PM

What's most sick about this story is that she claims to be a “born and bred” Canadian – but if there's $300-million or $700-million extra tax dollars available to give to seniors, all her bill will do is make sure our own born and bred seniors who ARE living in poverty go on doing so while she funnels that cash into the pockets of her immigrant friends who swore they didn't need it when we allowed them in. That's not very Canadian.

by clearsky
Oct 01 2009
1:55 PM

Gee. The NP is beating on the dead horse here. This is the third posting in two days on an issue that will soon die.

by Martha K
Oct 01 2009
1:55 PM

I'm confused – can someone correct me? I've visited Ms. Dhalla's riding. The homes there are large and gorgeous – in the $370,000 to $500,000 range. If there is poverty it's in other parts of Brampton, so I'm curious as to which particular neighborhood (or riding, as Brampton has 4) she is referring to, or is this a plea on behalf of all lower income senior citizens?

It is true that patient waiting lists have increased at the local Brampton hospital – a friend who lives in Brampton is in extreme pain because of a spinal injury and can't get an MRI OR a CT scan – a 9 month waiting list; he was told there are too many patients and not enough beds or diagnostic tools to accomodate everyone. He's worked in Brampton for 45 of his 65 years and can't get health access.

by ZeeBC
Oct 01 2009
2:13 PM

If Dhalla was serious about poverty for seniors and others then she should be be going after all those sponsors who have dumped their “clients” onto the welfare rolls. I would hazard a guess that over half of the sponsors have not lived up to their agreements. Aren't they responsible for all costs including medical for 10 years? $38 each does not sound like much for 3 years. Whats it for 4 or 6 years? It ratchets up I imagine. Then there is the ballooning influx. Whats the estimated cost 15 years hence? It is the thin edge of the wedge. When the voting block is large enough parity will be demanded and politicians will buckle for votes.

The joys of Multicult.

by Van Grungy
Oct 01 2009
5:26 PM

The real issue is eligibility for GIS after 3 years…

So a senior newcomer who is here 3 years, get citizenship, has no income is eleigible for over $500 a month…

She was on Adler, who then proceeded to rip her idea to shreds…

by Van Grungy
Oct 01 2009
5:26 PM


Guaranteed Income Supplement

by Van Grungy
Oct 01 2009
5:27 PM

Betcha that's a little more than 300-500 million per year.

by daniboy
Oct 01 2009
11:49 PM

As previously stated, lowering the residency time required from 10 to 3 years will enable one to receive only $38.00 monthly of Old Age Security (OAS) – however they would also be entitled to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) of up to AN ADDITIONAL $1,131.47 per month TAX-FREE !

Our current OAS policy grants more disposable income benefits to a Canadian resident of 10 years as compared to a life-long Canadian living in Canada for 40 years – and now Dhalla wants to reduce it to only 3 years and they too would receive more than life-long Canadians.

A more pressing issue with the OAS is a fact that the latest average payment of the OAS is 95% of the maximum monthly payment of $516.96 or $489.52 while the average monthly payments to widows and widowers is only 43% of the maximum monthly allowance of $1,050.68 or $451.71 monthly. Why such a disparity?

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