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December 15th, 2021

Seniors facing homelessness need federal help now

NDP Critic for Finance, Daniel Blaikie, and NDP Critic for Seniors, Rachel Blaney, made the following statement:

"It's encouraging to hear that the Liberal government has finally decided to listen and address the problem they created when they cut the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) seniors rely on. For months, New Democrats have been calling on the government to correct the problem. NDP MPs across the country received hundreds of emails, calls and letters from desperate seniors who were abruptly cut off from the GIS support they need simply for taking the pandemic help like CERB and CRB that they were eligible for.

People shared their heartbreaking stories with us. We heard from seniors who have already been evicted and others that are facing eviction this month. Seniors in their 70s and 80s contacted us to say they cannot buy their groceries or afford the prescription medicine they needed to be healthy. These were dire circumstances and the government left them struggling and worrying with little support for months.

In yesterday's fiscal update, after weeks of questions in the House from New Democrats and letters written to ministers urging them to act, the government finally outlined their proposal for a solution. They would announced a one-time payment to alleviate the financial hardship the Liberals' clawback has caused for vulnerable, low-income seniors.

This is some much-needed hope for seniors, but so many questions remain, and the government needs to act urgently to get the money in people's pockets right away and explain how it will help them pay their rent for the remaining half a year before their GIS is reassessed. It's also very important that this payment be tax-free and not counted as income. Otherwise, it will further impact the help seniors are eligible to receive next year. These seniors have been through so much in the past months. The government made the mistake– now they need to fix it by getting this money to seniors now."