Thursday, March 25, 2010
Conservatives plan to cut off inmate pensions
OTTAWA — The Conservative government is promising to cut off monthly old-age security payments to hundreds of federal prison inmates, including infamous serial killer Clifford Olson.
Olson is regarded as Canada’s ultimate portrait of evil, a vile and unrepentant psychopath doing life for the grotesque torture, rape and murder of 11 children as young as nine years old.
Yet as QMI Agency columnist Peter Worthington recently revealed, every month since 2005 the federal government has been sending Olson the same old-age security cheque that the average law-abiding Canadian grandma gets.
The latest available figures indicate about 325 jailed killers, rapists and other assorted criminals over 65 are receiving up to $1,200 a month in old age security.
All of this apparently came as a shock even to the federal minister responsible for the administration of old age security.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said Wednesday she was “very disturbed” to hear that old age cheques are going to inmates.
In an exclusive interview with QMI Agency, the minister said flatly: “We don’t think it’s appropriate, and we want to prevent it from happening again.”
Most right-thinking Canadians would applaud.
This rather extraordinary act of public generosity towards some of the worst of the worst behind bars in Canada today is expected to cost taxpayers more than $4 million this year alone.
But this issue isn’t just about tax dollars, nor the public hatred for killers like Olson.
Giving old age pensions to prison inmates simply doesn’t make sense.
Inmates can’t spend the money while they are in prison, and many who are behind bars at age 65 are lifers who will die there.
They have all the food, clothing, shelter and health care they need to sustain themselves — often at a higher standard than the thousands of Canadian widows forced to survive in society on less than $13,000 a year on old age security.
In fact, more than half the amount Olson is getting every month comes from the guaranteed income supplement that is only available to the poorest of the elderly poor in our society.
It was never intended to go into an inmate’s savings account while taxpayers shell out up to $150,000 a year to keep him fed and housed.
The human resources minister says the government is exploring its options to cut inmates off the dole without unduly punishing their spouses and families.
Finley’s officials are also concerned about possible court challenges on grounds that old-age security is a universal Canadian right of citizenship which, like voting, is not forfeited during incarceration.
Even if that is true, the federal government already tax back old-age security payments from any Canadian over 65 earning more than $66,000 a year.
In other words, society long ago decided that money is for people who really need it, and not for the rich — or prison inmates — who don’t.
As for inmates’ spouses and families, they can still collect old age security and other support on their own.
Even the cold-blooded killer Olson, Worthington reports, seems to find it rather amusingly odd that he would be getting a public pension in solitary confinement.
If the government gets its way, the bucks will soon stop there.
I am against the movement to cease giving them pensions. Many people do not realize or care, that inmates are still Canadian citizens. They don't lose that when they are convicted. And all Canadian citizens have the right to receive pensions. I want prisoners to receive more rights, not less. Who cares if he can't use the money? If he has family, he could give some to them, he could use it to pay for education programs in prison, etc.