Income Security


  • Identify concerns and issues relating to the financial well-being of Ottawa seniors
  • Prepare information and develop views and advice to address these concerns
  • Share and exchange such information and advice with other organizations concerned with related policy analysis and advocacy, as well as with other interested partner organizations and individuals
  • Encourage and support governments to adopt and implement policies, programs and administrative practices that improve the income security of current and future Canadian seniors


  • Actively support efforts of the federal government to enhance the data, analytical tools and analyses needed to meet the declared objective of government decision-making based on evidence, particularly where it applies to policies and programs affecting Canadian seniors
  • Statistics Canada’s data systems, Canada Pension Plan reforms, Tax provisions affecting seniors, Revenue Canada’s information and related services (for the elderly), and the Social Development department’s examination of system-wide reforms in cooperation with the provinces/territories, will all receive attention

Key Accomplishments

  • This brief note proposes the adoption of a New Canada Poverty Line (NCPL).  It responds to one of the main issues for the development of a new Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy:  which measure or “headline indicator” should be the main focus for a national poverty reduction target. However, it should be complemented by a coherent “dashboard” of related poverty indicators, recognizing the many aspects of poverty as well as the multiple programs, governments and other entities, including civil society and charitable organizations, that seek to assist those less privileged and in need.  Ideas regarding a poverty indicator dashboard are advanced in a separate, companion note.
  • A paper entitled “The Grey Tsunami Threat: A Failure of Evidence to Drive Policy” was developed and distributed in 2017 by our Expert Panel. The grey tsunami refers to the large wave of baby-boomers who have now started to reach age 65. The paper describes:  how older workers and especially women have increased their employment growth over the past 20 years; shows why continuing trends will greatly ease any tsunami threat in coming decades; suggests why much policy analysis seems to have missed this; proposes some general lessons that can be learned – for analysis and formulating policy advice – and concludes with some implications for future retirement income policies.
  • To achieve solid evidence-based analysis on retirement, pension and other issues related to aging, the Government needs more sophisticated longer-term data and analysis, focusing on distributional characteristics (not just averages) and recognizing the evolving, changing nature of the economy, its work patterns, and increasingly varied experiences as people move through their life cycles. The COA Panel has put forward its concerns in a new paper “Upgrading Social Policy Research and Advice: Modernizing our Data, Tools and Practices to Meet Evolving and New Challenges.”
  • The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development is in process of developing a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. One of our panel members, John Stapleton, sits on a committee that is advising the Minister on the contents of the strategy. Our panel has prepared input to this important poverty fighting exercise in a paper Input to the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. It discusses the scope of the strategy, issues related to measurement and consultation, priorities in addressing poverty among seniors and longer-term directions. A summary of this paper is  published in the on-line journal Policy Options in January 2018 with the title Measuring Poverty? Let’s Get Empirical.
  • Financial workshops entitled “Planning for Retirement on a Low Income” were provided directly to some 200 seniors in the fall of 2017. These will be further developed to include workshops in French in 2018. Special thanks to the Ottawa Public Library for their collaboration.
  • A presentation was made by Panel member Richard Shillington to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in September 2017. (On this site scroll down to the name Mr. Richard Shillington)  Click here for his remarks.



Committee Membership

  • The COA has convened a small panel of income security experts, each of whom has long-standing expertise and experience in policy research and analyses, as well policy development within government, relating to income security programs and reforms
  • The Panel meets regularly to explore current and prospective issues, develop supporting evidence and seek consensus on both materials and advice to put forward to government policy makers, and to share with the wider community
  • The group sessions are chaired by Dr. Russell Robinson, a member of the COA’s Board of Directors