Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance appears before the Senate Committee on Finance, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, May 15, 2012.
Credits: Chris Roussakis/QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty grew exasperated at opposition MPs on Tuesday for being out of touch and not having read the March budget.
Flaherty appeared at the Commons finance committee where MPs are combing through a budget implementation bill the NDP and Liberals both oppose and would like key elements hived off for separate scrutiny.
He questioned whether the NDP's finance critic had read the budget after Peggy Nash charged changes to Old Age Security were not mentioned.
In fact, the March 29 budget called Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity has an entire section (Chapter 4) on social programs and several pages devoted to OAS and the need to increase the age of eligibility.
"The OAS change was not in the budget bill," Nash said at committee.
"It's in the budget, yes," Flaherty said.
He later went on to educate Nash - a former leadership contender - about the various sections of the budget.
"Nothing unusual about this at all, particularly for members of a finance committee," he said with a look of bemusement.
Liberal MP Scott Brison pressed Flaherty to provide dollar amounts to back government claims the OAS is not sustainable. The government says the age to collect the social program will rise to 67 by 2023 from 65.
Flaherty said changes are needed because Canadians more will be collecting OAS.
Brison accused Flaherty of being out of touch with average Canadians by making some save more money or set more aside until OAS kicks in.
"I think what's out of touch is not realizing that people in Canada are living longer and healthier lives. That ain't out of touch," Flaherty shot back.