To survive or not to survive

This is an Open Letter to M. Francis Drouin, Member of Parliament, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON

How does a deceased pensioner’s spouse survive when he or she is denied a survivor’s pension to which they are rightfully entitled? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Dear Sir,

Please take the time to read my story and consider our situation.

I just turned 70 a couple of weeks ago. I retired from the CBC in Montreal back in 1997 after 30 years of service. I was 49 years old at the time and was already separated from my first wife for a couple of years.

I was cohabiting with my current spouse at the time and we were waiting for our divorces to be finalized. We were legally married in 2001.

CBC human resources informed me then that my ex-spouse would still be entitled to the survivor’s pension when I passed away. They also insisted that the current federal legislation was outdated and would soon be changed. That was 20 years ago!

We moved to Calgary where we both continued to work and we purchased a home. Five years later we moved back east and settled in St. Catherines. I continued to work till age 65 to maximize my CPP pension benefits. My wife had to stop working due to health reasons. In 2016, we moved to Hawkesbury to be closer to our three children who live in Montreal. We purchased a property and once again we have a mortgage to pay.

My wife is only 62 years old and receives a minimal CPP pension of $70 per month. I am the sole supporter with three pensions (OAS, CPP and CBC). It’s tight but we manage. However, should something happen to me, how will she be able to cope? She would be forced to sell our home, probably at a loss, and with no mortgage insurance, what would she be left with?

I was employed for nearly 45 years. I paid my taxes as well as all pension and  health contributions. I never collected one cent from any employment or social assistance until I retired.

I believe we paved the way to benefit future generations so now it’s time for the younger working folks to go to bat for us! Especially those of you whom we elected to represent us in government. You are in the best position to stand up for our rights to repeal this archaic and unfair legislation.

Mr. Drouin…I find the existing pension benefits standards act to be as outdated as some old laws that are still on the books, such as the one where you cannot tie up your horse in front of the local saloon.

I am aware that there are thousands of people who are in this same very precarious situation. Recently, I learned that the NDP introduced a Private Member’s bill to deal with this issue. Will you, as well as the Liberal Party be supporting this Bill?

During the 2015 election campaign, Mr. Trudeau promised our (S.S.P.F.C.) coalition leaders that he would deal with this issue if elected. We voted him in…and we’re still waiting for this item to be addressed.

SO PLEASE! The time has come to act on this matter – AND ACT NOW…not next year – or the next session of Parliament. Change this legislation and you an be sure to count on my vote.

Mr. Drouin…I’m new to this area but I’ve heard from various sources that you are receptive to suggestions and dedicated to fighting for the well-being of your constituents. May I take the liberty to thank you in advance for your attention to look into this matter? If at all possible, my wife and I would greatly appreciate to hear your thoughts and opinion about this legislation.

Our best regards,

Lester E. Jung, Miroslawa Preis

[email protected]

Additional notes:

Please note that recently the Treasury Board President, Mr. Scott Brison responded to our Coalition request for action, and his opinion was that the status quo (or the current legislation) is OK. EXCUSE ME, but I can smell a hidden agenda here! Every time a pensioner passes away and his or her spouse is denied the survivor’s benefits, it means more savings for the government’s coffers.

I’m sure that such important legislation as legalizing marijuana and changing the lyrics of our National anthem are a much bigger priority but, perhaps ensuring that our seniors are not driven into further poverty, could also be a commitment by this government.

While our Prime Minister is continuously busy running around the country taking “selfies” with his various adoring “so-called” refugees and apologizing to everyone for just about everything and anything, we seniors keep getting pushed deeper into poverty by the lack of good will and action to deal with this all important legislation.

N.B. Copies of the attached letter and additional notes will also be sent to a number of other MP’s and the PMO, the opposition party leaders and various media, print and broadcast.


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