The federal government has announced a new one-time COVID-19 relief benefit for senior citizens impacted by social-distancing lockdowns and the ensuing economic upheaval.
The support measure will provide seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension with a tax-free payment of $300, along with an additional $200 payment for those who qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Ottawa estimates the benefit will cost the treasury $2.5 billion to implement.
Senior citizens have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 80 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths affecting elderly Canadians that live in long-term care and assisted-living facilities. Seniors have also been impacted by rising costs and disruptions to everything from access to medical care for chronic illnesses, to new difficulties managing basic daily activities such as trips to the grocery store.
This new one-time measure is in addition to a $1.3 billion payment to seniors announced in April through the Goods and Services Tax credit, for an average top up of $375 for single seniors and $510 for senior couples. Ottawa also reduced required minimum Registered Retirement Income Fund withdrawals by 25 per cent for 2020, to help older Canadians whose investment portfolios were battered by widespread market volatility in the early days of the outbreak.
The government yesterday also pledged to:
- Expand the New Horizons for Seniors Program with an additional investment of $20 million in aid to organizations that support seniors
- Temporarily extend GIS and allowance payments if seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed. The move is intended to avoid interruption to seniors’ benefit payments
According to media reports, officials say the new one-time payments will be distributed ‘within weeks.’ The government says that legislative changes will not be required to enact any of the new programs designed to support seniors, likely helping funds reach those who need it most in a more efficient manner.
Our team will keep you updated on the latest measures to aid businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19 as they become available. If you have questions about the new senior’s benefit or other government relief programs, please contact a member of our team.
Armando Iannuzzi, Co-Managing Partner