Ruby Dhalla unveils bill to end bias against Indians, others in Canada

June 19th, 2009 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 19 (IANS) A bill was introduced in the Canadian parliament Thursday to end discrimination against Indian and other non-white immigrants in old-age pension.

Under the current discriminatory Old Age Security Act, senior immigrants from India and many other nations have to wait 10 years to become eligible for pension while those from European countries start getting this benefit within three years.

Introducing the Bill C428 in the Canadian House of Commons, Indian-origin MP Ruby Dhalla said: “This bill seeks to increase support to immigrant seniors and erase an inequality that exists against seniors coming to Canada from certain countries like China, India and others in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.

“Immigrant seniors from these areas have to wait 10 years to receive their Old Age Security benefits versus three years for seniors coming from other countries.”

Canada’s first Sikh woman MP said the current law discriminated against senior citizens on the basis of their country of origin.

This practice is unfair and unjust as it has forced immigrant seniors from many countries to live a life near poverty.

“All seniors in Canada, irrespective of their country of origin deserve to age with dignity. Seniors form the foundation of our country and deserve to be treated with equality, fairness and respect so that they may age in comfort,” said Dhalla.

She urged all political parties to support the bill to equalize the residency requirement for all immigrant seniors regardless of country of origin.

Indian Canadians have been spearheading a campaign since the 1990s to seek end of the discriminatory pension law. On their behest, former Indian Canadian MP Gurmant Grewal had raised this issue in parliament in 1998.

Indian Canadian seniors were invited by the then finance minister Paul Martin and given the promise to end the discriminatory law.

“But he did nothing to address the issue. The problem is that Canada has bilateral old-age pension agreements with largely white nations, but not with India and most other countries,” Grewal told IANS.

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