QUÉBEC, June 30, 2016 /CNW/ - Speaking to seniors at the Manoir Sully (Résidences des Bâtisseurs) in Quebec today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, reaffirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to strengthen income security for lower-income seniors by announcing that starting in July, Canada's most vulnerable single seniors will receive an increase to their Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up.
Public pensions are an important part of the retirement income of Canadians, particularly for lower-income single seniors who face a high risk of living in poverty. In Canada, the vast majority of low-income seniors are single and live alone; a significant portion of this group are also women. By increasing the GIS top-up by up to $947 annually, the Government of Canada will improve the financial security of about 900,000 vulnerable seniors.
Increasing the GIS top-up is only one of the many enhancements announced by the Government of Canada that will help improve quality of life for seniors. Additional measures include:
- restoring the age of eligibility for the Old Age Security pension and the GIS from 67 to 65;
- providing higher benefits to senior couples receiving GIS and Allowance benefits and who are living apart for reasons beyond their control;
- enhancing the Canada Pension Plan based on consultations with provinces, territories and Canadians;
- looking at how a new Seniors Price Index that reflects the cost of living faced by seniors could be developed; and
- providing for the construction, repair and adaption of affordable housing to help seniors who face challenges in accessing affordable housing.
"Our government is working hard to grow the bottom line for Canadians who need our support. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and respect—especially our seniors.The increase to the GIS top-up benefit reaffirms our commitment to lifting Canadians out of poverty, strengthening public pensions and improving the quality of life for seniors."
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
On March 22, 2016, Budget 2016 announced important changes to address the needs of vulnerable low-income seniors, including:
Increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single seniors
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up will be increased by up to $947 annually for single seniors with the lowest incomes, starting in July 2016.
This will support seniors who rely almost exclusively on the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the GIS and may therefore be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties. This measure will improve the financial security of about 900,000 seniors across Canada.
Restoring the age of eligibility for Old Age Security
In 2012, the Old Age Security Act was amended to gradually increase the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the GIS from 65 to 67 over six years. The changes were scheduled to start in April 2023, with full implementation by January 2029. Budget 2016 announced the intent to restore the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and GIS from 67 to 65 and Allowance benefits from 62 to 60.
This change will put up to $17,000 into the pockets of the lowest-income Canadians each year, as they become seniors.
Increasing benefits for couples living apart for reasons beyond their control
Amendments to the Old Age Security Act will be introduced to ensure that couples who receive GIS and Allowance benefits and have to live apart for reasons beyond their control (such as a requirement for long-term care) will receive higher benefits based on their individual incomes, not their combined incomes.
Introducing a new Home Accessibility Tax Credit
The Home Accessibility Tax Credit for seniors and persons with disabilities will help with the costs of ensuring their homes remain safe, secure and accessible.
Enhancing the Canada Pension Plan
The Government of Canada has committed to working with provinces and territories to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) which would represent a major step in improving retirement outcomes for working Canadians. Finance ministers had a frank and productive discussion at their December meeting. Every jurisdiction agreed to participate in CPP expansion discussions, and all agreed to work toward reaching a collective decision by the end of 2016.
Supporting affordable housing for seniors
The Government will support the construction, repair and adaption of affordable housing for 5,000 senior households through an investment of $200.7 million over two years starting in 2016–17.
In addition, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development has been mandated to lead the development of a Canadian poverty reduction strategy that would set targets to reduce poverty and measure and publicly report on the Government's progress.
Exploring a new Seniors Price Index
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that OAS and GIS benefits keep pace with the actual costs of living faced by seniors. The Government is therefore looking at how a new Seniors Price Index that reflects the cost of living faced by seniors could be developed.
SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information: Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]