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Discussion Starter #1
I was thinking of doing this question as a poll but there are so many nuances to potential solutions that I don't think I could properly cover them all.

Many people were properly outraged, IMO, to hear that Clifford Olsen would be receiving OAS. The question gets a little trickier with Russell Williams and his military pension, especially considering that his spouse may have planned her financial affairs around the expectation of that pension.

As far as I understand it, when seniors go into long-term care facilities the nursing home receives any pensions to cover the costs. It costs $110,000 to house an inmate versus about $40,000 for a senior in a nursing home. Why should prisoners, who are provided with dental care, prescriptions, recreation, food and lodging be treated in a superior manner to our seniors?

Here's my suggestion. Any universal government pensions should go directly towards the support of the prisoners upkeep. Any company or military pensions should be divided in half, with one half going to the spouse and the other half going towards the prisoners upkeep. If there is no spouse, the entire amount should go towards the prisoners upkeep.

Thoughts, comments?
 

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You are right that this is a tricky issue. But it's tricky largely because there are opportunists (as in any other situation in life) who would love to get their hands on some free money.

Yes I followed the story and the man is obviously troubled. He is going to jail for 25 years to do his time. That is the punishment. I don't see why some 3rd party should benefit from the windfall of his pension. What did they do to deserve it?

Russ W paid into that pension plan during his years of service. The money, along with employer contributions and matching, are rightfully his.
 

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as disgusting as it is, that Williams freak apparently did his job well, showed up each day and put in the hours.
It's what he did after work that is revolting.

I agree that only assets gained directly from a crime should be taken as punishment for that crime. Freedom is the currency, otherwise.

I have earned my pension at work. If I do something illegal after hours I don't think I should forfeit it.
And government (& society) would have to define all crimes serious enough to qualify for forfeit of pension.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Okay. Here's the part that I don't get and maybe somebody could explain it to me.

My grandmother came closer to being a saint than anyone I know. On more than one occasion she took a relative dying of cancer into her house to nurse them during the last days of their life.

When she went into a residential nursing home she had to forfeit her OAS to cover her expenses. Here's a quote for how the system works:

OAS AND GIS PAYMENTS

What happens to our OAS and GIS payments if only one spouse enters a nursing home?

When you enter a nursing home and your spouse does not, Social Development Canada (SDC), formerly Human Resource Development Canada, considers this to be an involuntary separation. This does not mean a legal separation. It simply means that in the eyes of SDC, you and your spouse may each be eligible for the same monthly financial assistance as single pensioners. This allows both of you to possibly receive an increase in Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) monthly pension amounts.


What if I am single?

A nursing home resident without dependents who gets financial assistance must use his or her OAS and GIS payments to help cover the nursing home room and board expenses.


Now compare that with Clifford Olsen. Olsen requires an even more expensive sort of maintenance than my grandmother did. He will also receive an equivalent or even superior level of medication and health care that was available to my grandmother in the nursing home. Both nursing homes and prisons are government institutions; the main difference is that entry into one is self-imposed.

So why is it that my grandmother had to contribute her OAS to cover her overhead expenses and Clifford Olsen should not?
 

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You are taking the quote out of context.

A nursing home resident without dependents who gets financial assistance must use his or her OAS and GIS payments to help cover the nursing home room and board expenses.

If a nursing home resident cannot afford the prescribed monthly rate (which is already extensively tax subsidized) they may apply for "financial assistance". Financial assistance is awarded on the basis of need. You don't get to double-dip by keeping your OAS & GIS and then asking for more money to pay for your nursing home. You have to contribute to the cost from your income, which includes OAS and GIS.
 

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As far as I understand it, when seniors go into long-term care facilities the nursing home receives any pensions to cover the costs. It costs $110,000 to house an inmate versus about $40,000 for a senior in a nursing home. Why should prisoners, who are provided with dental care, prescriptions, recreation, food and lodging be treated in a superior manner to our seniors?
This is a common misconception, based on anecdotes about grandparents who had little or no pension other than OAS & GIS. If a person has sufficient income to pay the provincially prescribed monthly rate ( which is extensively subsidized already), they simply pay that, and it has no effect on their OAS & GIS. Those peole who cannot afford the prescribed rate, and apply for additional financial assistance, must at least contribute their government benefits.
 

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I was thinking of doing this question as a poll but there are so many nuances to potential solutions that I don't think I could properly cover them all.

...

Thoughts, comments?
Legslation built on exceptional cases usually results in bad law. In the absence of legislation entitling government to seize all the assets of anyone convicted of any criminal offence, there are real problems in trying to single out pensions of particular classes of criminal.

Pensions are an asset which a person has accumulated, and presumably contributed to. Many criminals have dependents who are entitled to a share of these assets. Take the assets away and you increase the number of dependents on social assistance.

Williams is unusual in having a substantial pension (for a criminal). Most do not. All have their potential contributory years (from legal earnings that is) interrupted by their incarceration, and their legitimate future employment prospects curtailed. Take away their pensions and you simply increase the amount we will have to pay them in social assistance when they finish their sentences.

All that being said, there may well be a case for garnisheeing the income of anyone in federal penitentiary. But it would take sober deliberation by a Parliamentary Committee to assess all the ramifications of doing so - and that won't happen in the current hystercial (and opportunistic) climate.
 

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Okay. Here's the part that I don't get and maybe somebody could explain it to me.
<snipped>
When she went into a residential nursing home she had to forfeit her OAS to cover her expenses. Here's a quote for how the system works:

OAS AND GIS PAYMENTS

What happens to our OAS and GIS payments if only one spouse enters a nursing home?

When you enter a nursing home and your spouse does not, Social Development Canada (SDC), formerly Human Resource Development Canada, considers this to be an involuntary separation. This does not mean a legal separation. It simply means that in the eyes of SDC, you and your spouse may each be eligible for the same monthly financial assistance as single pensioners. This allows both of you to possibly receive an increase in Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) monthly pension amounts.


OAS and GIS are based on household income, not individual income. If one spouse has a significant income (either they're still working, have a good pension, or have investment income) and the other does not, then it's likely that neither spouse will be eligible for GIS (and potentially OAS) while they are living together.

If one member of the couple enters a nursing home, the government treats the couple as having been involuntarily separated, and GIS/OAS benefits can be applied for as if both members of the couple are single and living separately. Often, this results in the lower-income spouse becoming eligible for benefits that they would have been ineligible for prior to entering the nursing home.

None of the above has anything to do with the cost of the nursing home. In most provinces, nursing homes are subsidized by tax dollars and are available to low-income seniors who need them regardless of their income. If a low-income senior cannot afford the nursing home cost, then they are required to sign over their government benefits (OAS/GIS) to the nursing home to help offset the cost of their care.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
With respect, I think you fellows are over complicating the issue. I think OAS was designed to help seniors pay for their living expenses. All prisoner's basic needs are already taken care of by the taxpayer. All I'm saying is that if seniors have to give up their OAS to help cover their expenses in nursing homes, why shouldn't prisoners give up their OAS to help pay their expenses as well?
 

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With respect, I think you fellows are over complicating the issue. I think OAS was designed to help seniors pay for their living expenses. All prisoner's basic needs are already taken care of by the taxpayer. All I'm saying is that if seniors have to give up their OAS to help cover their expenses in nursing homes, why shouldn't prisoners give up their OAS to help pay their expenses as well?
I don't think that is much in dispute. There seems to be consensus that income support payments such as OAS & GIS should be suspended for inmates, and the government has already passed legislation to do so for inmates of federal penientiaries. (Transferrring the money to Corrections Canada rather than just suspending payment presents legal problems with accountability for Parliamentary control over Departmental spending.) They are currently negotiating with the provinces to do the same for provincial jails (sentences under 2 years.) It remains to be seen if the paperwork cost of doing this for short-term inmates would justify the benefits, given the typical response time from OAS/GIS/CPP is 6mos for anything now.

This thread started with a debate about seizing pensions, not government income supplements.
 

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Meh. CPP, OAS and GIS are true pensions in the original sense of the word - lifetime payments. They just aren't (in the case of OAS and GIS) tied to past labour market participation. The Latin "pensionem" (from which the modern word is derived) just means "payment."
 

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Interesting discussion. There appears to be little disagreement that OAS and GIS should be withheld from prisoners because we pay their living expenses. We become uncomfortable when it comes to seizing (legally obtained) personal property or pension entitlements.

Prisoners aren't free to hold a traditional job but they are permitted to earn and retain investment and other income while living free of charge at our expense.

I agree with the prevailing sentiment in this forum. It seems abhorrent to force prisoners or their families to give up their personal property because it is tantamount to forcing them to pay for their incarceration. We won't even ask relatively wealthy prisoners to pay. I'm having difficulty deciding exactly why it seems so abhorrent. Is there a greater moral, ethical or religious principle or is it just fashionable to think this way?
 
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