“This is not a party matter,” mentioned Ian Andexser of Nanaimo, B.C., who heads the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners. “This is a snub to Canada.”
And throughout the pond in England, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has come to the identical conclusion: the federal government of which he’s a member has acted “in very bad faith indeed” towards Canada.
The matter angering each people is a British authorities coverage that excludes U.Okay. pensioners who reside largely in Canada and Australia from receiving the conventional pension will increase meant to assist hold tempo with inflation. They are the “frozen pensioners” — and about 137,000 of them reside in Canada.
Gale advised CBC News the freeze doesn’t apply to British pensioners who retire within the United States.
“You can literally have two people living on opposite sides of the Niagara Falls, one in the United States, getting the United Kingdom pension uprated annually, the other living in Canada, having their pension frozen at the point of departure from the United Kingdom,” mentioned Gale.
“And of course, over many years, that means that the value of that pension depreciates dramatically. There are a lot of pensioners, U.K. citizens, living overseas in Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries particularly, who are living in genteel poverty. Or they’re having to be supported by the host country, which I would regard as wholly immoral.”
Anne Puckridge, born in British India in 1925, mentioned she would not even like to take a look at her British pension statements. “It makes me angry,” she mentioned.
‘We paid our contributions’
The Second World War veteran labored within the U.Okay. till the age of 76 and retired to Canada 20 years in the past to be near her daughter. She made the identical pension funds as another British employee — however her pension of £72.50 every week (about $125) is barely about half of what it will be if she lived within the U.Okay. or the U.S., moderately than Calgary.
“We paid our contributions towards our pensions. We were allowed to believe that we were making adequate provision for our retirement,” Puckridge advised CBC News. “We had no idea that while our money was being accepted, that we would be one of the four per cent of British pensioners who do not get the full pension.
“Canada takes care of us very nicely. I a lot admire all the assistance we get from Canada. The British authorities, alternatively, is saving an enormous amount of cash, many hundreds of kilos yearly, on each one that’s absent.”
Gale, who chairs the U.K.’s All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry on Non-Indexed British Pensions, said that arrangement appears to suit the British government quite well.
“The authorities appears to have dug its heels in as earlier administrations have, and is kind of content material to permit our pensioners to reside off the goodwill of different nations,” he said.
The cost of Canada’s ‘goodwill’
Canada has asked the U.K. to redress the imbalance, which is estimated to cost Canada hundreds of millions of dollars a year through lost tax revenues and lost economic activity — and through the expense of providing social benefits to elderly British immigrants who fall into poverty.
“For over 40 years, the Government of Canada has raised, and has sought to handle, this concern with the United Kingdom,” said Megan Fulton, spokesperson for Employment and Social Development Canada.
She said Canada asked to negotiate a comprehensive social security agreement with the U.K. at the end of 2020, but “the U.Okay. has declined Canada’s overtures thus far and continues to take care of its long-standing place that it can’t contemplate the indexation of U.Okay. pensions paid into Canada.”
“The U.Okay. might unilaterally resolve to pay listed pensions into Canada,” she added — just as Canada indexes pensions for its citizens who live in Britain.
Fulton said Canada has not calculated the total cost of the U.K.’s pension policy parsimony to the Canadian taxpayer, but agrees that many British pensioners need help. “Many scrape by with out the identical high quality of retirement seniors within the United Kingdom take pleasure in as a result of their pensions have eroded,” she said.
‘A lot of flannel’
The U.K. government says that it only uprates pensions in countries with which it has reciprocity agreements. It doesn’t have one with Canada.
“We perceive that folks transfer overseas for a lot of causes and that this may impression on their funds. There is data on GOV.UK about what the impact of going overseas shall be on entitlement to the U.Okay. State Pension,” a spokesperson for Britain’s Department of Works and Pensions told CBC News.
“The Government’s coverage on the up-rating of the U.Okay. State Pension for recipients dwelling abroad is a longstanding one in all greater than 70 years and we proceed to uprate state pensions abroad the place there’s a authorized requirement to take action.”
Gale said the the U.K. has no reciprocity agreement with Canada is because it has flatly refused to grant one.
Gale said that when he demanded to know how his government was going to respond to Canada’s offer of an agreement, “what we received was a whole lot of flannel [and] a letter from a junior pensions minister mainly saying we have got no need to vary.
“I believe that we have let down Anne and many others like her who have fought, in some cases been wounded, in the service of their country and have retired around the globe. It is quite wrong. It’s indefensible.”
Fairness for others, not for Canada
Andexser got here to Canada at age 25 in 1976 and made a profession within the lodge and pub business. “I’ve been a Canadian citizen longer than I was a British subject,” he mentioned.
Because he already had made pension contributions within the U.Okay., he selected to proceed voluntary funds from Canada and ultimately gathered 29 years of contributions.
He mentioned he was by no means warned he can be denied a full pension on the finish of the day. He mentioned it is time for his adopted nation to get harder with the land of his start.
Andexser mentioned Canada needs to be significantly offended that the U.Okay. just lately signed dozens of reciprocity agreements with different nations in Europe.
“Britain has always said we are no longer entering any new agreements. Well, they have just defied that by signing 27 agreements with the EU countries post-Brexit.”
Britain additionally signed agreements with non-EU members Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein and can ship full pensions to all of these nations.
“They have denied Canada’s request,” mentioned Andexser. “It’s an absolute direct snub to the Canadian government.”
An opportunity to ramp up the stress
Andexser mentioned he desires to see Canada exploit the leverage it has attributable to Britain’s have to signal post-Brexit free commerce agreements.
“While I understand that pensions cannot form part of any trade agreement, it certainly can form part of trade negotiations,” he mentioned. “We’ve got something that they want. And this is a perfect opportunity to use it.”
Andexser mentioned that the associated fee to Canada will solely enhance if the scenario is not mounted, as a result of working-age British immigrants to Canada outnumber pensioners and will quickly discover themselves in the identical place.
While the Government of Canada has insisted up to now that commerce and pensions are separate points, Andexser mentioned he was inspired when he was invited to make a presentation to the Commons Standing Committee on International Trade in late February.
And final month, the House of Commons unanimously carried a movement tabled by Green MP Paul Manly calling on the federal authorities to press Britain to vary its pension coverage.
When requested by CBC News whether or not it will make pensions a difficulty in commerce talks, the Canadian authorities did not rule it out.
“Public consultations are currently underway in Canada to gather views of Canadian stakeholders,” mentioned Fulton.
Andexser mentioned his group plans to foyer Canadian politicians vigorously to incorporate pensions within the talks.
“Enough noise needs to be made to make the British government realize that they cannot treat Canada as if we were still a colony.”