A Message from the Minister of Seniors
As Minister of Seniors, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the most recent initiatives the Government of Canada has undertaken to help seniors, their families and caregivers cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please feel free to share this message with your networks.
COVID-19 has made life more difficult and more expensive for seniors. Many are feeling the effects of social isolation and are facing higher costs for food and services, increased dispensing fees for their medication and a premium for deliveries. Some have also seen their life savings diminish. That’s why the Government of Canada has acted quickly to assist seniors and provide them with greater financial security.
In addition to the supports we’ve already provided to seniors, we announced that we will:
- Provide a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with a further $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This means that seniors who receive both the OAS and the GIS will receive a total of $500. Seniors do not have to apply for the additional support; it will be automatically paid to eligible seniors who are age 65 and up as of May 31, 2020. Recipients of the Allowance and the Allowance for the Survivor will also receive the $500 payment. This measure represents an additional $2.5 billion in direct supports to 6.7 million seniors.
- Expand the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) with an additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network. That means funding for activities such as virtual exercise classes, providing tablets and tutorials on video conferencing, deliveries of food or medication, or helping seniors get to the doctor.
- Ensure the most vulnerable seniors continue to get the benefits they depend on by temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if a senior’s 2019 income has not been assessed. 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.
- Help seniors, and all Canadians, get the assistance they need to file their taxes. We’re partnering with community organizations to provide free, virtual tax clinics. Seniors with a modest income and a simple tax situation may be able to have volunteers do their taxes by video conference or phone at no cost to them. More information on available tax clinics can be found here.
I continue to work closely with my Cabinet colleagues, the National Seniors Council, seniors, stakeholders, experts and all levels of government to identify ways we can better support seniors. As this pandemic continues, the Government of Canada stands ready to take additional actions as needed to assist all Canadians.
I look forward to keeping you informed and updated on our COVID-19 response for seniors in the coming weeks and months. Thank you for all the valuable work and outstanding support you continue to provide during this challenging time.
Together, we can and we will get through this.
Minister Deb Schulte