Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $2.5 billion to support Canadian seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the prime minister, no Canadian should have to choose between putting food on the table, filling their prescriptions, or paying their bills, adding that too many seniors are already facing significant health, economic, and social challenges due to COVID-19.
The financial support announced includes a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
The federal government says that this measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.
“As workers, neighbours, parents, grandparents, spouses, caregivers, and volunteers, Canada’s seniors have shaped this country and contribute to our communities every day,” Trudeau said in a statement. “They are among the most threatened by COVID-19, and we will support them and work to keep them safe.”
Additional measures for seniors includes expanding the New Horizons for Seniors Program 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.
As well, the Canadian government is temporarily extending GIS and Allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. They say this will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most.
“Seniors have helped shape the Canada we know and love today. Supporting seniors during this difficult time is essential,” said Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors. “With an additional $300 for OAS recipients plus a further $200 for GIS recipients, we are helping Canadian seniors get the support they need during the pandemic.”
There are currently 6.7 million seniors who are eligible for the OAS pension and 2.2 million who are eligible for the GIS, according to the federal government.