The Government of Canada is helping low-income seniors in Québec



    SAGUENAY, QC, Aug. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The Government of Canada is following
through on its commitment to strengthen Canada's public pension system and
ensure that low-income seniors keep more of their hard-earned money without a
reduction in benefits.
    Today, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour and
Member of Parliament for Jonquière-Alma, on behalf of the Honourable Marjory
LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Secretary of State
(Seniors), met with local seniors and service providers and announced changes
to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) that will provide an additional
$15 million in GIS payments to over 30,000 working seniors in Québec.
    "Our government is committed to supporting seniors living on limited
incomes, and giving low-income seniors who choose to work the financial
flexibility they desire in retirement," said Minister Blackburn.
    "Today's seniors are living longer and more active lives than ever
before, and their participation in the labour market is growing," said
Minister LeBreton.  "This positive measure will put money back into the
pockets of thousands of low-income seniors who work."
    "I commend the Government of Canada for implementing this measure that
will greatly benefit thousands of low-income seniors across Canada," said Ms.
Susan Eng Vice-President of Advocacy, Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus
(CARP).  "Whether by choice or necessity, seniors are participating in the
labour force in greater numbers than ever. This measure is a major step
forward, and CARP encourages this government to continue to be proactive in
providing seniors with increased security and flexibility in retirement."
    On July 1, 2008, changes came into effect increasing the GIS earnings
exemption to $3,500 from $500. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500
or more, will be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS
benefits.
    The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive
the Old Age Security benefit, which is provided to all Canadians aged 65 and
over who meet the residence requirements.
    Budget 2008 and other recent Conservative Government initiatives are also
addressing the needs of Canada's seniors through the introduction of a series
of important measures that include:

    
    - establishing the National Seniors Council to advise the Government on
      issues of importance to older Canadians;
    - providing more than $1 billion in tax relief each year to Canadian
      seniors through pension income splitting and enhancements in the age
      and pension income credits;
    - providing $13 million over three years to help seniors and others
      recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and to provide
      information on what support is available;
    - enabling seniors to build their retirement savings in Registered
      Pension Plans and Registered Retirement Savings Plans for an extra two
      years until age 71
    - funding projects in hundreds of communities across Canada under the New
      Horizons for Seniors Program, helping seniors to bring their
      leadership, energy and skills to benefit our communities; and
    - enabling 1.6 million low-income seniors to benefit from increased
      monthly benefits available under the GIS and to make a one-time
      application for the GIS.  As long as they file income tax returns every
      year, these seniors will never have to re-apply.
    

    See the attached backgrounder for more information on the GIS earnings
exemption increase.
    This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

       Increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement Earnings Exemption

    On July 1, 2008, an amendment to the Old Age Security Act came into effect
that will help Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients who choose to
work to keep more of their GIS benefits.

    What has changed?

    This amendment increases the GIS earnings exemption to $3,500 from $500. 
A single pensioner earning $3,500 or more a year will be able to keep up to an
additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.
    Approximately 100,000 GIS and Allowance recipients with employment income
will benefit from this improved measure. The following chart provides a
breakdown by province and territory.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Additional         Estimated Number
                                      GIS/Allowance           of Individuals
    Province/Territory                     Payments               Benefiting
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Newfoundland and Labrador          $1.3 million                    1,790
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Prince Edward Island               $0.4 million                      639
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nova Scotia                        $1.8 million                    3,069
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    New Brunswick                      $1.7 million                    2,813
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Quebec                            $15.1 million                   30,307
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ontario                           $19.4 million                   30,179
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Manitoba                           $2.6 million                    3,964
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Saskatchewan                       $2.9 million                    4,476
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Alberta                            $6.0 million                    8,184
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    British Columbia                   $8.1 million                   13,811
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Northwest Territories,
     Nunavut and Yukon                 $0.5 million                      767
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CANADA                            $60.0 million(*)               100,000
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    (*)Provincial and territorial figures do not add to $60 million due to
    rounding.  The estimated number of individuals benefiting reflects the
    current proportion of GIS recipients with earnings.  The dollar amount
    was pro-rated accordingly.
    

    Overview of the Old Age Security program

    The Old Age Security (OAS) program is funded through general tax revenues
and provides a basic income for Canada's seniors.  Benefits available through
the OAS program include the basic OAS pension, the GIS, the Allowance, and the
Allowance for the Survivor.
    The OAS pension is available to all Canadians aged 65 and over who meet
the residence requirements.
    The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive
the OAS pension and who have little or no other income.  The GIS was increased
by $18 a month for single recipients and $29 a month for couples in January
2006 and again in January 2007.  This represents a total increase of $36 and
$58 respectively, or seven percent over two years.
    The Allowance and the Allowance for the Survivor are monthly benefits for
60- to 64-year-old spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or for
surviving spouses.  The benefits are designed to lessen financial difficulties
faced by couples living on a single pension, and by seniors whose spouse or
common-law partner has died.
    GIS and Allowance recipients have their supplement reduced by one dollar
for every two dollars of income (other than the OAS pension).  Before the
Budget amendment, only 20 per cent of a recipient's earnings, to a maximum of
$500, were exempt from the benefit reduction calculation.  The new exemption
enables GIS and Allowance recipients to earn up to $3,500 without having their
GIS benefits reduced.




For further information:

For further information: (media only): James Maunder, Office of the
Leader of the Government in the Senate and Secretary of State (Seniors), (613)
943-0756; Pascal Doucet, Media Relations, Service Canada Communications,
514-982-2384, ext. 2209; Media Relations Office, Human Resources and Social
Development Canada, (819) 994-5559; For more information on OAS benefits,
please call 1-800-277-9914 or visit servicecanada.gc.ca.

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