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Some seniors with disabilities facing pension penalties in Quebec

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Some seniors with disabilities facing pension penalties in Quebec
WATCH: There is mounting pressure against the CAQ government to end what some see as discrimination against people with disabilities who are forced into early retirement. One opposition party introduced a bill to change the current legislation, just months after another party did the same. – Feb 20, 2024

Québec solidaire has tabled a bill in the national assembly to get rid of penalties on the Quebec pension plan for seniors forced to retire early because of a disability, the second filed by an opposition party in recent months.

This follows a petition that the party sponsored last month.

“We had more than 5,500 people that actually signed it,” the party’s finance critic Haroun Bouazzi said at a news conference.

The party points out that tens of thousands of the seniors in question can see their Quebec pension reduced by as much as 24 per cent after age 65, even if the early retirement was involuntary.

“It is time for this discrimination to stop,” said Sophie Mongeon, a lawyer representing seniors with disabilities. “It has been in place for 25 years.”

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Last year the Tribunal administratif du Québec ruled that the financial penalty violated the seniors’ rights. The CAQ is appealing that decision.

Last November, the Quebec Liberal Party also tabled a bill to abolish the penalties.

“In my view, there is no need to table a second bill,” the party’s critic for seniors, Linda Caron, said with a smile. “They are free to do it if they want to. But what I want most of all is for the government to call one of the bills and to put an end to this financial burden.”

Québec solidaire said it tabled the second bill because of changes the government made to the law last month. Up until then, people were able to get a disability pension between ages 60 and 65.

“Now, when you’re 60 they stop the disability pension and they automatically put your retirement pension,” Mongeon explained.

She argued that that still doesn’t get the seniors off the hook because they will still be docked a portion of their Quebec pension at age 65.

“When you turn 65 you still have a penalty of about 24 per cent. It’s about $200 per month per person.”

It’s a huge hit for many older adults, she said.

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When asked for comment, Finance Minister Eric Girard’s office pointed to a statement it issued last month about the issue in which it insists it is sensitive to the reality of people aged 60 and over.

Critics vow to keep pushing for changes to the law.

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