On July 1, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments increased, but according to Réseau FADOQ, the combined increases work out to only an extra $12-16 per month. NDP Seniors Affairs Critic Rachel Blaney noted that seniors are understandably unimpressed.
“Does this government really think that $12-16 a month is going to make a significant difference in the lives of seniors? That doesn’t even cover a typical annual rent or property tax increase in Canada, which means that most seniors will have a harder time making ends meet than before. We know that poverty amongst seniors in Canada is on the rise, and $16 won’t fix that,” said Blaney.
“Instead of pretending that the cost of a single lunch is enough to improve the lives of seniors, seniors need a government that takes real action. Universal pharmacare will save families across Canada an average of $500 per year, and seniors will undoubtedly be better off. There are far too many seniors in this country who are going hungry, cutting their pills in half, or foregoing their medication entirely because of affordability issues. We will make different choices and bring in universal drug coverage,” added Blaney.
The housing crisis is heavily impacting seniors across Canada. The lack of accessible housing poses challenges to many seniors, and wait-times for long-term care facilities can stretch into years. These supply constraints have pushed prices through the roof, and seniors’ incomes simply have not kept pace.
Blaney added that too many seniors in receipt of GIS will be shocked to learn that they no longer receive it this month. “It’s a problem I’ve heard time and time again. Seniors, for one of life’s many reasons, don’t get their taxes in on time. As soon as July 1 rolls around, the income they rely on to pay their rent or feed themselves doesn’t arrive.” In 2018, almost 40,000 seniors had their GIS suspended. Rachel’s Private Member’s Bill C-449 would have solved this issue, granting seniors in receipt of GIS a one-year grace-period to complete their taxes.
The current Liberal government is not prepared to deal with Canada’s changing demographics and higher proportion of seniors. And the Conservatives are telling people to go at it alone. Band-aid solutions and paltry benefit increases can only work for so long. We need a holistic plan for the present and future, a National Seniors Strategy will ensure that we are taking proper care of those who made this beautiful country what it is today.