Government of Canada suspends Old Age Security benefits for prisoners

December 15, 2010
OTTAWA, ONTARIO, —Today, Bill C-31, the federal legislation that stops the payment of Old Age Security benefits to convicted criminals, became law.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today announced the passage of Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act, which ends Old Age Security benefits to prisoners.

“It is wrong that convicted killers like Clifford Olson were receiving taxpayers’ entitlements such as Old Age Security benefits,” said MP Joe Preston. “Our government made a commitment to Canadians to end these entitlements for prisoners, and we have delivered on our commitment.”

“It’s great to see that this government is putting victims and taxpayers first, ahead of criminals. The suspension of Old Age Security benefit payments to inmates does just that,” said Ms. Sharon Rosenfeldt, President of Victims of Violence. “I commend Prime Minister Harper and Minister Finley for taking leadership on this important issue and ending entitlements for convicted criminals.”

“It is common sense that prisoners who are already receiving taxpayer-funded room and board should not also receive Old Age Security. That is why Canadians are upset and outraged. This bill is important for the principles of fairness,” added Ms. Rosenfeldt.

In addition to suspending Old Age Security benefits for federal inmates who have sentences of two years or more, the Government of Canada will begin negotiations with the provinces and territories to implement these changes for provincial and territorial inmates who have sentences exceeding 90 days.

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

Old Age Security benefit payments will be suspended the month following an inmate’s incarceration. Benefits will start or resume the month the individual is released.