FIRST BENEFITS AGREEMENT WITH CANADA

  • Roger Sowry
Social Welfare

The first Social Security Agreement between New Zealand and Canada signed last April by the Minister of Social Welfare and the Canadian Minister of Human Resources, comes into effect today.

``People who have lived part of their lives in New Zealand and part in Canada will find it easier to obtain both New Zealand benefits and Canadian pensions from today,'' says Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Roger Sowry.

For New Zealand, the Agreement covers New Zealand Super, veterans' pensions, invalids benefits, widows benefits and domestic purposes benefits for widowers. For Canada, the Agreement covers old age pensions under the Canadian Old Age Security Act and disability and survivors pensions under the Canada Pension Plan.

For New Zealanders living in Canada, they will now be able to count periods of residence here to qualify for pensions under the Canada Pension Plan.

Canadians who have lived in New Zealand for at least one year may now qualify for any of the NZ benefits listed above, if they meet conditions for obtaining these benefits.

``The advantage for Canadians living in New Zealand is that periods they spend resident here, will now be treated as periods of residence in Canada to qualify for the Canadian old age pension and the Canada Pension Plan,'' Mr Sowry says.

New Zealand Super and veterans' pensions paid to Canadian residents will be assessed at 1/45th of the full rate for every year of residence in New Zealand. However, anyone who qualifies before emigrating to Canada is guaranteed at least 50% of the full rate as long as they have lived in New Zealand for 10 years after age 20, five of those years after age 50. Other benefits will be paid in Canada at 1/25th of the full rate for every year of New Zealand residence.

Human Resources Development Canada will accept applications for New Zealand benefits from Canadian residents and in New Zealand claims for Canadian pensions can be lodged through local Income Support offices.

``Anyone already on one of the New Zealand benefits covered by the Agreement can arrange with Income Support to have their benefit paid in Canada before they leave New Zealand.

``Strong cultural and historical ties link New Zealanders and Canadians and this Agreement will help strengthen those ties,'' says Mr Sowry.

Further information on the Agreement can be obtained from any Income Support office, or by contacting Income Support's International Affairs division, P.O. Box 27178, Upper Willis Street, Wellington. Telephone 04 496 1880, Fax 04 496 1881