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OpEd: It’s time to retire universal seniors’ discounts

Price breaks should go to those most in need, regardless of how many birthdays they've celebrated.
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Gord Woodward, November 22, 2013 10:20:25 AM

Aren’t we all fed up with The Entitled?

Every day the media brings us coverage of these complainers who feel that the world owes them something. And every day our blood pressure rises as we watch them waste away the hours Facebooking or playing games or protesting their treatment, instead of doing something constructive about it like, oh, we don’t know, getting a job!

Every year, it seems, their numbers grow. So too does our embarrassment, as we shudder at how we came to be related to such entitled brats.

Well, we’re done with them. It’s long past time, Canada, to put an end to the freeloading ways of… well-off seniors.

The who? That’s right, Grandma and Grandpa, we’re talkin’ ’bout your generation. And the conversation isn’t going well as we review the endless list of universal seniors’ discounts you receive — so many perks that even the Millennials wonder, “Isn’t this a bit much?” From movies to meals to government fees, seniors get such lucrative price breaks that instead of lying about their age as they get older, they actually brag about it. Turning 65 (or even 55 — 55! — at some businesses) has become the equivalent of winning the Set for Life lottery.

This (no-salt) gravy train has to end.

Thankfully, we’re not the only ones who feel that way. Here in B.C., the cash-strapped provincial government has just eliminated free ferry rides for seniors, and the city of Nanaimo is considering retiring free recreation passes for people over 80 (that should cut waiting times for the beach volleyball courts).

Nationally, the Toronto-Dominion Bank did away with its no-fee seniors banking plan for new customers, though it made a peace offering of a low rate. The Old Grey Mares, you see, are exactly what they’ve always been: a demanding bunch who see price reductions as their birthright. That’s why many firms have a Seniors’ Day (offered monthly not to make it more convenient for their elderly buyers, but to make it survivable for staff, who then only have to deal with mobs of coupon-wielding seniors once every month).

Now, before the accusations fly of kicking someone when they’re down (and can’t get up), let’s point out that these discounts came into vogue decades ago when seniors suffered one of the highest poverty rates in the country; today they have one of the lowest.

While their hair turns colour naturally, the ones who are prematurely greying these days due to financial struggles are young families and low-income earners (one and the same, often). Yet their need for help is discounted, rather than met by discounts.

See the problem?

Sorry, elderly Mom and Dad, but you’ve had your day in the (Florida) sun. Well-off seniors need discounts about as much as they need more kids (and thank goodness Viagra doesn’t offer discounts, or they might have more of them).

Business and government should give breaks only to those who really need them, no matter what their birth certificate says. As for those who feel entitled, well, regardless of your age, your antics are getting old—fast.

Image: josephleenovak/Flickr.com

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