May 12th, 2020
MP Blaney says government announcement for seniors falls short
“Todays announcement of a one-time boost for low-income seniors is better than nothing, but will not address the ongoing challenges faced by many seniors across Canada, especially during the current COVID-19 crisis,” says MP Rachel Blaney.
The government announced today that the Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) would be increased by $300 and $200 respectively for one month for those receiving the benefits. They will also allow seniors an additional three months to file their taxes (until October 1) without it resulting in interruptions to their benefits.
Blaney, who was the NDP’s spokesperson for seniors issues during her first term as MP for North Island-Powell River, has been calling for an increase to OAS and GIS rates long before the COVID-19 crisis resulted in increased costs for many vulnerable seniors. Blaney also introduced a private members bill one year ago that would give seniors a full year’s grace period for filing their taxes before their GIS payments would be suspended.
While the details of the timing and tax status of the one-time payments have not yet been confirmed, Blaney says for many seniors it won’t come soon enough or be enough to cover their shortfall.
“Seniors in our communities have been asking for help with additional costs due to COVID-19. We’re more than two-months in and this is the first direct support announced for them,” said Blaney. “Increases like this should be permanent and ongoing to ensure no seniors in this country have to live in poverty, not a one-time-only crisis benefit.”
Blaney and the NDP have been calling for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to be delivered as a universal payment that would have included seniors from its announcement in late-March.