British Columbia Old Age Pensioners’ Organization
Celebrating Our 89th Year In 2021
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION
The BCOAPO was instituted in 1932 and incorporated in 1937. It declared itself to be ‘non-political and non-sectarian’, with non-political meaning non-partisan.
The main battles waged by the OAPO were over the application of the means test for the old age pension. Political activity by the OAPO was carried on at all levels: · Pressure on all levels of government · Opposing unjust actions of the pension board · Successful use of the newspapers and enlisting the support of other organization – trade unions, fraternal organizations and the churches.
From the beginning the OAPO had a solicitor who donated his services. The OAPO offered to take up ‘all cases of members who have been unjustly treated’ by the pension board. In 1932 the OAPO presented its first petition to the provincial legislature. It was directed at federal pension legislation and called for an end to the calculation of fictive income from adult children.
Copies of the petition were sent to all towns in B.C.
The target was 20,000 signatures. The aim was that pension regulations should be applied in such a way as to include the largest number possible under its benefits. Here it ran into direct conflict with the provincial bureaucracy whose aim was to include the least number under its benefits by limiting it to those who were destitute. The OAPO said that the qualification for pensions ‘should be Canadian citizenship and residence in Canada’.
The OAPO fought for non-pensioners and would-be pensioners as well. The OAPO also fought to improve the OAP Act itself; to reduce the eligible age from 70 to 65 and to increase the pension benefit so that it at least met the subsistence needs of the elderly. The OAPO also campaigned for a national pension in place of a provincial pension. The OAPO continues to advocate on behalf of all seniors through our resolutions passed at Convention.