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Feb. 21, 2020 | Friday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: U.K. trade deal must ensure expats' pensions are indexed
Letter

Dear editor:

I am proposing that Prince Harry and Megan in their new role as non-royals and normal people, free from their stressful duties of attending functions, shaking hands and kissing babies, undertake a real and meaningful cause – namely, being aggressive advocates for the noble cause of working to have British expats’ frozen pensions become indexed or unfrozen.

Millions of Canadians are unaware that British expats living in Canada, dozens living here in NOTL – many former military heroes who are now members of our local Royal Canadian Legion – do not qualify for an indexed British pension.

Canada and Australia, both Commonwealth nations, are two of a select few countries where pensions are not indexed.

Most British expats, in the past, emigrated to Commonwealth countries, many in their middle age or after retirement to join other family members (sons, daughters, etc.) who had emigrated in previous years.

Their pension amount is frozen at the date they left the U.K. and, sadly, we have thousands of seniors here in Canada and worldwide living on their paltry non-indexed pensions.

Overwhelmingly, other countries have indexed British pensions, including the U.S.

If you were fortunate enough to be an immigrant from the U.K. with permanent residence in America, your U.K. pension would be indexed.

Additionally, and a sore point to be polite, is the fact that a spouse of a U.K. qualified pensioner also qualifies for a portion of his or her pension, even though the spouse may never have lived or worked in the U.K.

CABP (The Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners) has advocated for decades to reverse this pension law. Previous prime ministers of Canada have supported their efforts, thus far both to no avail.

An article in CABP’s magazine notes that “there are 12 million U.K. state pensioners, all of whom contributed similarly to the pension scheme via compulsory national insurance contributions. Of the 12 million, just over one million live outside the U.K.

“Half of the pensioners living overseas receive the same cost-of-living increases as those still living in the U.K., while the other half does not -- their pensions are frozen simply because of where they have chosen to reside in their retirement.

“Commonwealth nations and British overseas territories are home to 98 per cent of frozen pensioners.

“There are 144,109 in Canada plus 247,000 expats who are approaching pension age.”

To add insult to injury, the first agenda item agreed to in the EU and BREXIT negotiations was Britain agreeing to index pensions for expats living in the EU. Not the Irish border situation, trade agreements, banking, etc. – indexing expats’ pensions.

In conclusion, I implore CARP, in concert with our Canadian Trade Commission, the prime minister and supporting British MPs to make the indexing of pensions a top prioirty in any Canada-U.K. trade agreements, similar to the EU position with respect to expats living there.

Samuel Young

NOTL

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