Seniors are getting a one-time top-up—and promises of more to come
By Erika Morris
If you’re receiving Old Age Security (OAS) benefits, the federal government will be providing a one-time, tax-free top-up of $300 to help with any extra expenses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Citing such things as additional dispensing fees for prescriptions and taxi fare for those who want to avoid public transit, the government is also giving an additional $200 to those receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), for a total of $500 for those who receive both benefits. There’s no need to apply—beneficiaries will receive the payments automatically.
The government also announced that it won’t cut off OAS and GIS payments to seniors who forget to file their taxes on time, but officials warn that the financial information a tax return provides the government will be needed by October.
The government is also investing $20 million in the New Horizons for Seniors Program to tackle loneliness and fund community projects for seniors including virtual exercise programs and tablet laptops.
Both Conservative and NDP MPs have criticized the government’s emergency aid plan for seniors, saying a one-time payment isn’t enough in the ongoing crisis. Nursing homes have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, and many with fixed incomes worry about their investments.
Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the government had already helped seniors through a GST credit special payment and by reducing the minimum required withdrawals from registered retirement income funds by 25% for this year.
In last year’s election campaign, the Liberals pledged to boost the OAS by 10% for seniors 75 or older and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) survivor’s benefit by 25%. Those changes were promised to be implemented by July of this year.