Since before the election, New Democrats have been hearing from seniors who have been seriously hurt by the Liberal government's unacceptable decision to claw back the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) from seniors who received emergency pandemic supports such as CERB. The NDP brought the issue directly to the attention of the Ministers before the election, sadly they just ignored it. For months, we continued to call for the government to fix this injustice immediately by excluding pandemic benefit benefits in the calculation of GIS eligibility.
As MP I have raised this directly with the Minister, in the media including at a press conference in October with affected senior citizens and advocates, and repeatedly in Parliament.
In its November Fall Economic Update, the Liberals committed to a one-time emergency payment, but few details about the payment were released and seniors were told that they would have to wait up to six months, until at least May 2022, before this payment could be provided. That long delay has caused significant harm to Canada's most vulnerable seniors.
I am so glad to report that the NDP’s work to advance the voices of the most vulnerable low-income seniors have won the day. Through negotiations, the Liberal government has also finally agreed to speed up payments for seniors. Specifically, the timeline for the one-time payment will be moved up to April 19.
Here are the details regarding the One-Time Grant for GIS recipients who received pandemic benefits.
- Eligible seniors will receive a payment equal to the annualized reduction of their GIS/Allowance payment.
- Payments will be issued on April 19, 2022 and there is no need to apply. Service Canada will automatically identify the eligible recipients and make the payment via direct deposit to the vast majority of individuals or by cheque if they have not signed up for direct deposit.
This is a major victory for the most vulnerable senior citizens and I believe that this relief will literally save lives.
I want to take a moment to thank the many seniors and advocates, like the 411 Seniors’ Society and the Kettle, who have been in touch with my office to speak up about the shameful decision that the Liberal government made to cut the GIS support. It should never have happened.
New Democrat advocacy for low-income seniors will not stop here. One lesson that the government should have learned from the pandemic is that low-income seniors, those who rely on the GIS, cannot make ends meet. That is why they have to supplement their income with additional work in retirement. To that end, I will keep pushing for the NDP's proposal for a guaranteed livable basic income so that seniors will never have to suffer the indignity they had to endure during the pandemic.