Seniors across Canada continue to face health, economic, and social challenges due to COVID-19. Many seniors are facing higher costs for food and services due to physical distancing restrictions, while others are paying more in dispensing fees to get the same medication or paying a premium for deliveries.
Today, the Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, highlighted that seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or Allowances will receive their one-time, tax-free payment this week without needing to apply. Seniors who reside in Canada can expect to receive the payment by direct deposit or cheque this week, whereas seniors who reside outside Canada can expect this one-time payment in July for those on direct deposit, or by cheque with delays given international postal disruptions.
Through several measures, the Government is providing about $900 for low-income single seniors and more than $1,500 for low-income senior couples, in addition to their existing benefits, to help with extra costs during the pandemic.
Seniors eligible for the OAS pension will receive a payment of $300, and those seniors also eligible for the GIS will receive an additional $200, for a total of $500. Allowance recipients will also receive $500. This $2.5 billion investment in financial support will help Canadian seniors cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.
As we carefully and gradually re-open the economy, the Government of Canada will continue to support seniors and respond to COVID-19 health, social, and economic impacts.
“It is important that we help seniors in Canada through this difficult time. With this one-time tax-free payment, we are continuing to support seniors to ensure they are able to get the essentials they need. As we go through this unprecedented challenge, we are providing a variety of measures that support seniors and ensure they know that we are with them and they are not left behind.”
– The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors
The large majority of OAS pensioners, nearly 85%, have after-tax income below $50,000. Seniors receiving the GIS live on incomes below $18,600 a year for singles and below $24,576 a year for couples.
6.7 million seniors who are eligible for the OAS pension and 2.2 million who are eligible for the GIS will benefit from this payment.
The Government has taken a number of other actions to support seniors through the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:
- Providing a one-time top-up payment through the GST credit in April. More than 4 million low- and middle-income seniors benefitted from this top-up, receiving a total of $1.3 billion in financial support. Close to 85 per cent of single seniors and almost half of senior couples benefited from this payment.
- Temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been received. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.
- Providing seniors flexibility with their Registered Retirement Income Funds, by reducing minimum withdrawal requirements by 25 per cent for 2020. This will help preserve assets during a volatile market.
- Investing an additional $20 million to expand the New Horizons for Seniors Program to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce social isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.
- Contributing $9 million through United Way Centraide Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.
- Investing $100 million to improve access to food for Canadians, including seniors, facing social, economic, and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Creating a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to support charities and non-profit organizations to adapt the services they provide to vulnerable groups, including seniors, in response to COVID-19.
- Introducing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 24 weeks to eligible workers, including seniors, who have stopped working due to COVID-19. Pension income does not affect eligibility to the CERB.