Long-term immigrants to Canada are facing increasing bureaucratic hurdles in accessing their Old Age Security (OAS) benefits to which they are entitled.
Many potential pensioners who have lived and worked in Canada for years are now being asked to produce landing papers and plane tickets from over a decade or more ago as proof of their residency.
Yvonne Gardner immigrated to Canada from England in 1975, but is now being denied her $500 monthly OAS benefits because she is unable to satisfy Service Canada’s requests for specific documentation, including plane tickets for all trips in and out of the country since she landed – 37 years’ worth.
Gardner says that such a request does not make sense, and that old tax returns should be ample proof that she satisfies the 10 years’ residency requirement. She now faces eviction from her apartment and must rely on Meals on Wheels for food.
Gardner is not alone in this type of struggle over Old Age benefits, according to Toronto MP Matthew Kellway, who says his office regularly fields inquiries on the subject.
“Requiring somebody who’s been a citizen for 40 years to confirm residency for that period, to find landing papers or plane tickets is incredibly silly,” says Kellway. “The government should assume this burden, given that it already possesses, or ought to possess, the records they seek from the applicant.”
A spokesperson from the government says that the requests are reasonable to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being allocated properly and to “ensure the integrity of the program.”
Source: Toronto Star