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The U.Okay.’s ‘dangerous religion’ coverage on abroad pensions is costing Canadian taxpayers

“This isn’t a celebration matter,” mentioned Ian Andexser of Nanaimo, B.C., who heads the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners. “This can be a snub to Canada.”

And throughout the pond in England, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale has come to the identical conclusion: the federal government of which he’s a member has acted “in very dangerous religion certainly” towards Canada.

The matter angering each people is a British authorities coverage that excludes U.Okay. pensioners who dwell largely in Canada and Australia from receiving the traditional pension will increase meant to assist hold tempo with inflation. They’re the “frozen pensioners” — and about 137,000 of them dwell in Canada.

Gale instructed Piece Enterprise the freeze doesn’t apply to British pensioners who retire in the US.

“You possibly can actually have two individuals residing on reverse sides of the Niagara Falls, one in the US, getting the UK pension uprated yearly, the opposite residing in Canada, having their pension frozen on the level of departure from the UK,” mentioned Gale.

“And naturally, over a few years, that signifies that the worth of that pension depreciates dramatically. There are a whole lot of pensioners, U.Okay. residents, residing abroad in Canada, Australia and different Commonwealth international locations significantly, who’re residing in genteel poverty. Or they’re having to be supported by the host nation, which I’d regard as wholly immoral.”

Anne Puckridge, born in British India in 1925, mentioned she would not even like to have a look at her British pension statements. “It makes me offended,” she mentioned.

‘We paid our contributions’

The Second World Warfare veteran labored within the U.Okay. till the age of 76 and retired to Canada 20 years in the past to be near her daughter. She made the identical pension funds as some other British employee — however her pension of £72.50 every week (about $125) is simply about half of what it could be if she lived within the U.Okay. or the U.S., somewhat than Calgary.

“We paid our contributions in the direction of our pensions. We have been allowed to imagine that we have been making enough provision for our retirement,” Puckridge instructed Piece Enterprise. “We had no concept that whereas our cash was being accepted, that we’d be one of many 4 per cent of British pensioners who don’t get the complete pension.

“Canada takes care of us very effectively. I a lot recognize all the assistance we get from Canada. The British authorities, alternatively, is saving an unlimited sum of money, many 1000’s of kilos yearly, on every one who’s absent.”

British expat and Second World Warfare veteran Anne Puckridge works on her pc at her residence in Calgary, Alta., on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)

Gale, who chairs the U.Okay.’s All-Celebration Parliamentary Group Inquiry on Non-Listed British Pensions, mentioned that association seems to swimsuit the British authorities fairly effectively.

“The federal government appears to have dug its heels in as earlier administrations have, and is sort of content material to permit our pensioners to dwell off the goodwill of different international locations,” he mentioned.

The price of Canada’s ‘goodwill’

Canada has requested the U.Okay. to redress the imbalance, which is estimated to price Canada a whole lot of tens of millions of {dollars} a yr via misplaced tax revenues and misplaced financial exercise — and thru the expense of offering social advantages to aged British immigrants who fall into poverty.

“For over 40 years, the Authorities of Canada has raised, and has sought to deal with, this difficulty with the UK,” mentioned Megan Fulton, spokesperson for Employment and Social Improvement Canada.

She mentioned Canada requested to barter a complete social safety settlement with the U.Okay. on the finish of 2020, however “the U.Okay. has declined Canada’s overtures up to now and continues to keep up its long-standing place that it can’t take into account the indexation of U.Okay. pensions paid into Canada.”

“The U.Okay. might unilaterally determine to pay listed pensions into Canada,” she added — simply as Canada indexes pensions for its residents who dwell in Britain.

Fulton mentioned Canada has not calculated the full price of the U.Okay.’s pension coverage parsimony to the Canadian taxpayer, however agrees that many British pensioners need assistance. “Many scrape by with out the identical high quality of retirement seniors in the UK take pleasure in as a result of their pensions have eroded,” she mentioned.

‘Quite a lot of flannel’

The U.Okay. authorities says that it solely uprates pensions in international locations with which it has reciprocity agreements. It would not have one with Canada.

“We perceive that individuals transfer overseas for a lot of causes and that this will affect on their funds. There may be info on GOV.UK about what the impact of going overseas will likely be on entitlement to the U.Okay. State Pension,” a spokesperson for Britain’s Division of Works and Pensions instructed Piece Enterprise.

“The Authorities’s coverage on the up-rating of the U.Okay. State Pension for recipients residing abroad is a longstanding one in every of greater than 70 years and we proceed to uprate state pensions abroad the place there’s a authorized requirement to take action.”

Gale mentioned the the U.Okay. has no reciprocity settlement with Canada is as a result of it has flatly refused to grant one.

Gale mentioned that when he demanded to understand how his authorities was going to reply to Canada’s supply of an settlement, “what we acquired was a whole lot of flannel [and] a letter from a junior pensions minister mainly saying we have no want to vary.

“I imagine that we now have let down Anne and lots of others like her who’ve fought, in some circumstances been wounded, within the service of their nation and have retired across the globe. It’s fairly fallacious. It is indefensible.”

Equity for others, not for Canada

Andexser got here to Canada at age 25 in 1976 and made a profession within the resort and pub business. “I have been a Canadian citizen longer than I used to be a British topic,” he mentioned.

As a result of he already had made pension contributions within the U.Okay., he selected to proceed voluntary funds from Canada and ultimately collected 29 years of contributions.

He mentioned he was by no means warned he could be denied a full pension on the finish of the day. He mentioned it is time for his adopted nation to get harder with the land of his beginning.

Ian Andexser (proper) of Nanaimo, B.C. with Inexperienced MP Paul Manly. (Submitted)

Andexser mentioned Canada needs to be significantly offended that the U.Okay. lately signed dozens of reciprocity agreements with different international locations in Europe.

“Britain has at all times mentioned we’re now not coming into any new agreements. Nicely, they’ve simply defied that by signing 27 agreements with the EU international locations post-Brexit.”

Britain additionally signed agreements with non-EU members Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein and can ship full pensions to all of these international locations.

“They’ve denied Canada’s request,” mentioned Andexser. “It is an absolute direct snub to the Canadian authorities.”

An opportunity to ramp up the stress

Andexser mentioned he needs to see Canada exploit the leverage it has because of Britain’s have to signal post-Brexit free commerce agreements.

“Whereas I perceive that pensions can’t type a part of any commerce settlement, it definitely can type a part of commerce negotiations,” he mentioned. “We have one thing that they need. And it is a good alternative to make use of it.”

Andexser mentioned that the fee to Canada will solely enhance if the state of affairs is not fastened, as a result of working-age British immigrants to Canada outnumber pensioners and will quickly discover themselves in the identical place.

Whereas the Authorities of Canada has insisted prior to now that commerce and pensions are separate points, Andexser mentioned he was inspired when he was invited to make a presentation to the Commons Standing Committee on Worldwide Commerce in late February.

And final month, the Home of Commons unanimously carried a motion tabled by Green MP Paul Manly calling on the federal authorities to press Britain to vary its pension coverage.

When requested by Piece Enterprise whether or not it could make pensions a difficulty in commerce talks, the Canadian authorities did not rule it out.

“Public consultations are at the moment underway in Canada to collect views of Canadian stakeholders,” mentioned Fulton.

Andexser mentioned his group plans to foyer Canadian politicians vigorously to incorporate pensions within the talks.

“Sufficient noise must be made to make the British authorities understand that they can’t deal with Canada as if we have been nonetheless a colony.”

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