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North Island-Powell River MP calls retiree income boost insufficient

Increases should be permanent, says Rachel Blaney
Rachel Blaney Powell River
Getty image.

An 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, according to North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.

In a media release, Blaney stated that the federal government announced 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, she added.

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 since long before the COVID-19 crisis resulted in increased costs for many vulnerable seniors. Blaney also introduced a private member’s bill one year ago that would give seniors a full year’s grace period for filing taxes before their GIS payments would be suspended.

While details of the timing and tax status of the one-time payments have not yet been confirmed, Blaney stated that 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,” stated Blaney. “We’re more than two months in and this is the first direct support announced for them. 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.