Old-age pensions |  “Things are bad” in Ottawa

Old-age pensions | “Things are bad” in Ottawa

Pierre Dorval had planned it all. Six months after his 65me On his birthday, this engineer from the Quebec region sent all his documents to the federal and provincial governments to receive his retirement pension as soon as he was entitled to it.

Posted at 7:00 am

Maxime Bergeron

Maxime Bergeron
Research team, La Presse

He received his first payment from Quebec on the scheduled day, in September 2022. He is still waiting for his check from Ottawa, after numerous phone conversations, emails and other unsuccessful attempts at communication.

“We see it with immigration, with passports, we see it in everything: we don’t really know what’s happening at the federal level, but we know it’s not going well,” said the new Energir retiree calmly.

Press has received many messages from young retirees denouncing a similar situation since an article was published last week about the federal government losing control of the archives. Among other things, we revealed that Ottawa had no idea how many of its employees were working from home.

Another reader regrets that he did not receive any acknowledgment from the federal government, more than three months after his old-age pension application. “Have we become a developing country? she says sarcastically.

58% more employees

One thing is clear: the delays deplored by many older people are certainly not related to the lack of officials.

The number of Old Age Insurance employees went from 1,142 in 2015-2016 to 1,802 in 2021-2022, according to data provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the department responsible for the file. During the same period, the annual number of new pension applications fell from 887,155 to 737,737.

So there are 58% more employees than there were six years ago… processing fewer new pension applications.

ESDC was unable to provide average processing time for new applications. This benefit is available from the first month following the age of 65me birthdays, and future claimants can apply up to 12 months in advance. Many seniors look forward to these payments of up to $600 per month to balance their budget.

“Applications are processed to ensure that as many new applicants as possible receive their payment within the first month of their eligibility,” an ESDC spokesperson said via email. Therefore, the service standard is that basic benefits are paid within the first month of eligibility in at least 90% of cases. »

ESDC managed to meet this goal 89.5% of the time last year. This means that almost 70,000 Canadians experienced late payments on their first checks.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Last June, many people lined up outside the Guy-Favreau Federal Building in Montreal to get their passports.

The image of the federal government flayed

Mess with passports, pension delays, problems with the CERB, explosion of delays in the processing of access to information requests: the accumulation of failures could damage the image of the federal government, according to Étienne Charbonneau, a professor at the National School of Public Administration (ENAP).

When basic programs like that aren’t successful, with simple things like sending checks to retirees, how are you going to create complex programs like dental insurance?

Étienne Charbonneau, full professor at the National School of Public Administration

“It doesn’t necessarily give people confidence,” he continues.

ESDC defends its ways. The department says new applications for Old Age Security pensions are “priority so that as many people as possible receive their benefits within the first month they are eligible.”

Réseau FADOQ, Canada’s largest senior organization, will be monitoring the situation. “If it turns out that services are not being provided to citizens and that some are seriously harmed, for example in the case of a delay in processing Old Age Insurance applications when everything has been done on time by the citizen, there is some concern there”, argued his spokesman Christian Labarre-Dufresne.


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