Grey Power

Hennessy's Index: A number is never just a number

Hennessy's Index

Hennessy's Index is a monthly listing of numbers, written by the CCPA's Trish Hennessy, about Canada and its place in the world. Scroll down for a PDF version. For other months, visit:

  • 0

    Number of times Prime Minister Stephen Harper campaigned on proposed changes to Canada’s Old Age Security (OAS) during the 2011 federal election.
  • 1985

    The last time a Prime Minister (Brian Mulroney) tried to change the public pension system without campaigning to do it during the federal election. A seniors’ movement dubbed Grey Power forced him to back off. (Source 1, 2)
  • 1952

    Year Canada implemented the Old Age Security Act. The OAS plays a role in replacing pre-retirement earnings. (Source)
  • 38

    Percentage of Canadians covered by a workplace pension, making public programs such as the OAS important, especially to lower income Canadians. (Source)
  • 39

    Percentage of lowest income Canadian parents who reported in 2009 that they were not preparing financially for their retirement. (Source)
  • 1 in 2

    Number of middle income baby boomers in Canada who face a severe cut to their living standards in old age, due to falling employer pension coverage. (Source)
  • 65

    The most common pensionable age within OECD countries and Canada’s official retirement age. (Source)
  • 67

    The speculated hike in OAS age eligibility following Prime Minister Harper’s ominous warnings of changes in Davos on January 26, 2012. (Source 1, 2)
  • $12,192

    Amount seniors could lose if Canada pushes the OAS eligibility age from 65 to 67. (Source)
  • Half

    Number of all low-income Canadian men who will collect an OAS/GIS cheque for only 10 years. The poorest 20 per cent of Canadians pass away 5.6 years earlier than the richest 20 per cent. (Source)
  • 4

    Percentage of GDP the OAS and CPP combined cost Canada; a bargain compared to Germany and Belgium’s 10 per cent and Italy’s 14 per cent. (Source)
  • 4.4 per cent

    Canadian poverty rate among seniors in the mid-2000s, one of the lowest among OECD nations, whose average is 13.3 per cent. (Source)
  • 5-10

    Number of years the Harper Conservatives say they would phase in the proposed OAS changes. (Source)
  • 75

    Percentage of Canadian seniors over the age of 65 who are ‘reliable voters’, meaning they voted in the previous federal, provincial and municipal elections. Nearly 90 per cent vote in federal elections. (Source)
  • October 19, 2015

    Canada's next federal election.
February 1, 2012