The increase in the age of eligibility of the Old Age Security program in Budget 2012 was widely telegraphed in advance but there were still a few surprises. Here are the other major initiatives introduced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Budget 2012:
Travellers’ Exemptions Increased
The travellers’ exemption is a dollar limit that Canadian residents can bring back after a trip abroad without having to pay customs duties or sales taxes. Budget 2012 proposes that the Travellers’ Exemption limits will increase to $200 for an absence of more than 24 hours (current limit: $50), $800 for an absence of more than 48 hours (current limit: $400) and $800 for an absence of more than 7 days (current limit: $750).
Increase in Old Age Security Age of Eligibility
Starting in April 2023, the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS will be gradually increased from 65 to 67. In other words, Canadians who were born on or after Feb. 1, 1962 can expect to receive OAS benefits at age 67. The age of eligibility will gradually rise for Canadians who were born between April 1, 1958 and January 31, 1962. The OAS age of eligibility remains unchanged for Canadians born before March 31, 1958.
New Option to defer Old Age Security
Budget 2012 proposes that starting on July 1, 2013, Canadians can opt for a voluntary deferral of OAS for up to 5 years and receive an actuarially adjusted higher pension. Here’s an example provided in the Budget document:
Rita will be turning 65 in December 2013. She plans to continue working as long as she can. She prefers to forgo her OAS pension for the maximum deferral period of five years so that she can have a substantially higher annual pension amount, starting at age 70. When she takes up her OAS pension at age 70, her annual pension will be $8,814 instead of $6,481 (in 2012 dollars).
Eliminating the penny
As of Fall 2012, the Government will no longer distribute pennies. Good riddance!
The Federal Government is planning to reduce its headcount by 19,200 over a three-year period, a number that includes attrition. Most of the job reductions will occur in the National Capital Region.
Adjustments to Public Sector Pension Plans
The Government is proposing that public sector employees contribute 50 percent to their pension plans over time (IIRC, the current employee contribution target is 40 percent). Starting in 2013, employees joining the public service will see the age of retirement raised from 60 to 65.
Other changes that maybe of interest in the Budget include protection of long-term disability plans and improvements in the registered disability savings plan.