Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

December 14, 2010 10:54 ET

CORRECTION FROM SOURCE: Government Bill to Suspend Old Age Security for Prisoners Passes in the Senate

A correction from source is being issued with respect to the release sent out Tuesday, Dec. 14th 2010 at 8:56 am EST. The corrected version follows.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2010) - Last night, the Senate voted in support of Bill C-31, which stops the payment of Old Age Security benefits to convicted criminals.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced that Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act, which effectively suspends OAS benefits to incarcerated beneficiaries, has been sent to the Governor General for Royal Assent.

"It is wrong that convicted killers like Clifford Olsen were receiving taxpayers' entitlements such as Old Age Security," said Minister Finley. "Our government made a commitment to Canadians to end these entitlements for prisoners, and we have delivered on our commitment."

Once this legislation is passed, Old Age Security benefits will be suspended for federal inmates who have sentences of two years or more. The Government will also begin negotiations with the provinces and territories to implement these changes for provincial and territorial inmates who have sentences of 90 days or more.

Low-income spouses and common-law partners of prisoners will not lose their entitlement to the income-tested Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowances. The Allowances are for spouses and common-law partners.

This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.



The Old Age Security (OAS) program is the cornerstone of Canada's retirement income system.

In order to be eligible to receive OAS benefits, applicants must meet specific residence requirements. To receive OAS benefits, an individual must have resided in Canada for a minimum of 10 years, after age 18. A person applying for OAS benefits who has fewer than 10 years' residence in Canada may nevertheless qualify for a partial benefit if he or she has accumulated pension credits from one of the countries with which Canada has an international social security agreement. With 40 years of residence in Canada, a full pension can be received.

The OAS program offers three types of benefits:

  1. The OAS basic pension – This pension is paid to individuals aged 65 or older who meet the residency requirements. In 2009−2010, 4.7 million seniors received $27.3 billion in OAS pension benefits.
  1. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) – The GIS is paid to individuals receiving the OAS basic pension who have little or no other income. In 2009−2010, 1.6 million seniors received $7.7 billion in GIS benefits.
  1. The Allowances – The Allowance is paid to individuals aged 60 to 64 whose spouse or common-law partner receives the GIS. The Allowance for the Survivor is paid to individuals between the ages of 60 and 64, who have little or no income, and whose spouse or common-law partner has died, and who have not remarried or entered into a common-law relationship. In 2009−2010, 94 000 people approaching their senior years received $535 million in Allowances.

OAS benefits are adjusted quarterly in January, April, July and October to reflect changes in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Old Age Security Act contains a guarantee that ensures that OAS benefits are not reduced, even when there is a decrease in the CPI. As such, if the CPI goes down, OAS benefits will remain the same.

Individuals must apply for OAS benefits. They do not start automatically.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Finley
    Michelle Bakos
    Press Secretary
    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    Media Relations Office