Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

British OAPs in Canada face poverty sparking calls for action

Scores of Canadian parliamentarians are calling for action so British pensioners who have retired in their country do not live in poverty.

There is rising concern and anger that British pensioners who have settled in Canada do not receive annual inflationary increases to their pensions.

This means some of the 125,000 UK pensioners in Canada receive as little as £46 a week compared to the £156.20 they would be paid if they lived in Britain or a country where there is a deal to up-rate pensions.

Campaigners say the UK has now turned down four requests since 2013 to negotiate arrangements. There is consternation that a deal exists in the United States but that people who live in Canada have “frozen pensions”.

More than 40 Canadian parliamentarians attended an event at the country’s parliament to show support for British pensioners. A key demand is for their government to “achieve a final resolution to the frozen British pensions policy”.

They want the issue to be raised in trade talks with the UK.

Matt Jeneroux, a Canadian MP for Edmonton Riverbend in Alberta said: “I find it incredible that the UK Government is allowing this archaic policy to continue, punishing their pensioners for moving to some countries but not others. The UK is lucky that Canada has stepped up and provided support where it can.

“But it should not be just down to us; a country should treat its pensioners fairly, with dignity and respect. Canada is ready to end this injustice. It is time for the UK Government to work with us.”

Campaigners say internationally around half a million British pensioners suffer from frozen pensions.

The cost of living crisis has escalated concern that the value of their payments is being eroded. They say that 90 per cent of those affected live in Commonwealth states, while retirees to the US and the European Union enjoy fully uprated pensions.

Sheila Telford, who chairs the International Consortium of British Pensioners, said: “It is encouraging to see how the Canadian government has stepped up and is now determined to press the UK Government to end the discriminatory policy of freezing pensions… These frozen pensioners paid their compulsory National Insurance contributions, as did their employers in the expectation that they would be looked after in their old age.

“We look forward to the Canadian initiative being a next step in a final resolution of this festering issue”.

Ian Andexser, the director of the Canadian Alliance for British Pensioners, said: “Cost of living is not just affecting those in the UK; Canada is also seeing rising costs.

“British pensioners who moved to Canada are forced to make their UK state pension stretch further and further. But it can only stretch so far, only so much can be cut back on.

“I often speak to these pensioners, many of whom have to cut down on essentials, some of whom have had to enter back into work, and I hear how this policy has affected their retirement, a period in life where they are supposed to be supported and looked after.

“The UK Government and Canadian Government must sit down together to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

Lord German, vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on frozen British pensions, said people were “really suffering”.

Earlier this year Work and Pensions minister Laura Trott said the Government had “no plans” to change its policy. Foreign minister David Rutley last month said that the Foreign Secretary has “not had recent discussions with his Canadian counterpart on this issue”.

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