Seniors who already receive government assistance will see a top-up from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
Trudeau announced on Tuesday that seniors who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a one-time, tax-free $300 payment. Seniors eligible for the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) will receive an additional payment of $200.
The cost of the program is estimated to be $2.5 billion.
In a press release, the government said the payments are intended to help cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.
Some seniors had taken issue with being left out of targeted grants and subsidies announced earlier in the federal government’s pandemic response.
Trudeau said Tuesday that an estimated 7 million seniors can benefit from the measure.
“There’s no question COVID_19 has been taking a toll on seniors socially and financially,” Trudeau said
“Today, our government is announcing new measures to support seniors.”
In addition to the grant payments, Trudeau announced $20 million more in funding for the New Horizons for Seniors program, which is being used during the pandemic to support organizations that provide delivery services or help seniors stay in touch with family members.
Tuesday’s announcement also said the government will temporarily extend GIS and allowance payments if 2019 income information has not yet been assessed, so vulnerable seniors won’t risk having their benefits cut off.
Seniors are encouraged to submit 2019 income information as soon as possible, no later than October 1, 2020.
The measures, Trudeau said, are designed to “help isolated seniors and improve their quality of life.”
He also said his government is willing to work with provinces to find solutions to issues such as the high death rate seen in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
‘We’ve seen heartbreaking tragedies” in these facilities, Trudeau said.
“Seniors are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 as a disease. We often talk about the need to protect our parents and grandparents, to keep them safe,” Trudeau continued, emphasizing the importance of social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable.
About 70 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19-related deaths have been in residents aged 8 and up. When that is expanded to 60 and up, it accounts for 95 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths in Canada.