ARCHIVED — Vol. 147, No. 5 — February 27, 2013

Registration

SI/2013-18 February 27, 2013

JOBS, GROWTH AND LONG-TERM PROSPERITY ACT

Order Fixing March 1, 2013 as the Day on which Certain Sections of the Act Come into Force

P.C. 2013-140 February 14, 2013

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, pursuant to subsection 467(1) of the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, chapter 19 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012, fixes March 1, 2013 as the day on which sections 449, 450 and 453 of that Act come into force.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

(This note is not part of the Order.)

Proposal

The Order fixes March 1, 2013, as the day on which sections 449, 450 and 453 of the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act (the Act) come into force.

Objectives

The coming into force of sections 449, 450 and 453 of the Act make effective the amendments to the Old Age Security Act (OAS Act) that allow for the automatic enrolment of eligible individuals for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, and allow clients to request the cancellation of their pension.

These amendments to the OAS Act were made to relieve administrative pressures on the OAS program related to the aging population, while improving service delivery and ensuring that the program continues to meet the changing expectations of seniors.

Background

The objective of the OAS program is to ensure a minimum income to seniors and help reduce the incidence of low income among Canada’s seniors. OAS benefits include the basic pension, which is paid to all individuals aged 65 and older who meet the residence requirements, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors, and the Allowances for low-income individuals aged 60 to 64 who are the spouses/common-law partners of GIS recipients, or who are widows or widowers.

The effects of an aging population on federal government services are expected to reach unprecedented levels over the next decades, as the baby boom generation reaches the age of 65.

The Act, which received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012, includes various amendments to the OAS Act intended to improve service and introduce administrative efficiencies. In particular, it contains amendments designed to allow for the proactive enrolment of eligible individuals for OAS benefits.

Currently, the OAS Act requires that individuals submit an application for each benefit. Applications are required to provide information necessary to determine eligibility. Evidentiary documents may be required to substantiate the eligibility criteria for a given benefit.

Automatically enrolling seniors for OAS benefits would eliminate the requirement for an application for many seniors, reducing the paper burden on individuals and streamlining the service delivery of the OAS program. Proactive enrolment, which will be phased in from 2013 to 2016, will allow the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to leverage data that is already available within the Department, or accessible in existing data holdings from federal and provincial/territorial partners via information-sharing agreements, to help determine eligibility.

The first phase of the proactive enrolment initiative, set to begin in March 2013, is the automatic enrolment of individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for a full OAS pension. The amendments to the OAS Act contained in sections 449, 450 and 453 of the Act are necessary for Service Canada to have the authority to begin to automatically enroll individuals for their pension, or to consider a request to cancel a pension.

These sections

  • —allow the Minister to presume that a person meets the residence and legal status requirements if the prescribed information is available and unless there is evidence to the contrary;
  • —provide the Minister with the discretion to waive the requirement for an application for the OAS pension at age 65, when the Minister is satisfied that, on the basis of the information obtained under the OAS Act, the individual meets the eligibility requirements for this pension;
  • —require that the Minister inform the individual of the information that will be used to approve the payment of a pension and require the individual to correct any inaccuracies regarding the information on which the Minister intends to rely;
  • —allow a person, before the day on which they attain 65 years of age, to decline a waiver of the requirement for an application. For example, an individual may choose to defer receipt of their OAS pension at 65 in order to receive a higher pension at a later date. He or she would then submit an application to receive a higher benefit in the future;
  • —provide the Minister with the discretion to request an OAS application from an individual who was informed that they would be waived (for example if new information that called eligibility into question were discovered by the Department); and
  • —allow the Minister to cancel a pension after the commencement of payment upon request from the pensioner, in which case the amount of any pension received is repaid and the pension deemed not to have been payable.

Implications

The coming into force of these sections would have a beneficial impact on many Canadian seniors by enabling automatic enrolment of the OAS pension and eliminating the need to submit an application to receive the pension. It would also lead to administrative efficiencies for the Department and offset projected operational pressures as the Department would be able to reduce the number of paper applications it processes for the OAS pension.

Consultation

The amendments to the OAS Act were included in the Act, and were discussed at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, as well as at the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance.

Departmental contact

Nathalie Martel
Director
Old Age Security Policy
Income Security and Social Development Branch
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
355 North River Road
Place Vanier, Tower B, 18th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0L1
Telephone: 613-957-1642
Fax: 613-991-9119
Email: nathalie.martel@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca