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April 23rd, 2020

Federal government must commit to ensuring no benefits will be interrupted for Canadian seniors amid COVID-19: NDP

HAMILTON - Today, NDP Critic for Seniors, Scott Duvall (Hamilton Mountain) called on the federal government to ensure that Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments will not be interrupted for Canadian seniors amid COVID-19. While the government has extended the deadline to file taxes, there is widespread concern among seniors and their families that they will be unable to file on time because the agencies they depend on for assistance are closed to the public.

"Initially, the Minister of Seniors said, as long as seniors get their income tax filed by June 1, there will be no interruption in their GIS payments," said Duvall. "However, a memo from the CRA indicated that GIS payments may be interrupted."

Over 2 million Canadians receive benefits each year under the GIS program. The benefit is designed to help lift low income seniors out of poverty. Benefits for those eligible are determined each year, based on tax returns of the previous year. The new benefit cycle starts on July 1. Many seniors fear their GIS payments will be interrupted, and they will not get a benefit cheque for the month of July.

"Missing a cheque for even one month would be devastating for seniors who depend on their GIS to get by on a month-to-month basis," said Duvall. "For this to happen during a pandemic, when seniors are stressed and their expenses are higher, is unacceptable."