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May 16th, 2019

Vulnerable Seniors are Getting Cut Off of Their Pensions

The NDP has a simple solution: Help seniors, don’t hurt them.
OTTAWA – On Thursday, Rachel Blaney, NDP Seniors Critic, put forward a plan to help seniors, instead of hurting them. Blaney believes low-income seniors shouldn’t lose their homes and incomes for being unable to file their taxes on time. She tabled a private member’s bill that will help Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients avoid the temporary suspension of their benefits that can result in devastating situations.

“Tens of thousands of seniors in Canada have their payments suspended in July every year for not submitting their taxes by the deadline. These are people who rely on GIS payments to keep a roof over their head. That’s wrong,” said Blaney. “Illness and death affect everyone, and sometimes prevents seniors from getting their taxes done. Low-income seniors shouldn’t have their GIS benefits suspended for being human.”

Blaney’s bill has two main purposes; to give GIS recipients a one-year grace period if they were unable to file their taxes by the deadline, and to require Employment and Social Development Canada employees to reach out to affected seniors to assist them through the process. The vast majority of GIS recipients who have their benefits suspended get them reinstated a few months later, and the ESDC employees already have to review these files. GIS suspensions have affected 34,900 seniors in 2017 and 27,000 seniors in 2018.

“I’ve heard from people across this country who because of themselves or their spouse getting sick are unable to submit their taxes on time. When that happens their GIS payments are suspended, and people have lost their homes, cut their prescription pills in half to make them last longer, or gone hungry until they manage to get through the administrative process to have their payments reinstated,” added Blaney. “This is an easy solution to a big problem and will go a long way in helping some of the people who need it most.”