Ottawa signals increase to benefits for low-income seniors

February 18, 2016
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

The coming federal budget will include measures aimed at helping low-income seniors, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Wednesday.

The Liberal platform promised a 10-per-cent increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement payment for single, low-income seniors and Mr. Morneau is suggesting a move in this direction is coming soon.

The pledge, when combined with a related promise to change the way seniors' benefits are increased with inflation, is estimated to cost more than $1-billion a year once fully implemented by 2020.

In response to a question from an NDP MP in the House of Commons about the GIS promise, the minister said the government is "looking towards measures in Budget 2016 that will help those Canadians who are currently retired and facing a difficult situation."

The GIS is an additional payment under the Old Age Security Pension program that is available to low-income seniors.

The Liberal platform said its GIS reforms would provide almost $1,000 a year in additional money to about one million seniors.

Fred Phelps, the executive director of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), said the minister's comments are a positive sign.

"It's a hopeful remark," he said, noting that his organization has long called for an increase in support for low-income seniors. "If he's signalling moving in that direction, that's a huge step in the right direction."

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