October 1, 2020
Our Liberal government has taken comprehensive steps to improve seniors’ quality of life. Our initiatives have helped many seniors to make ends meet, stay active in their community and get the care they need.
- The Liberal government has put more money in seniors’ pockets by strengthening Canada’s public pension and benefit system.
- We restored the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 65 years from 67 years, putting thousands of dollars back into the pockets of new seniors.
- Our government increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) by $947, improving the financial security of about 900,000 vulnerable single seniors.
- To help working seniors keep more of their benefits, we increased the GIS earnings exemption to allow seniors to earn up to $5000 without any reduction in benefits, and a partial exemption for the next $10,000. It also now includes self-employment income.
- We worked together with provinces and territories to increase the Canada Pension Plan’s maximum yearly benefit for future retirees by about 50 percent, meaningfully reducing the risk of not saving enough for retirement.
Health and well-being
- To help seniors live longer at home, we invested an additional $6 billion in home care and community care, as well as palliative care services.
- To help seniors access housing that meets their needs, we’re building at least 7,000 new affordable housing units for seniors—as well as investing in much-needed renovations—under the National Housing Strategy.
- Through the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) the government is investing $4B with the provinces and territories to provide rent support to seniors and other groups that face housing challenges. The CHB will help low-income seniors and others afford their rent. Unlike traditional subsidies, which are tied to a unit, the Canada Housing Benefit will go to a household, giving recipients the flexibility to find the best unit possible and change units when they need to. The CHB has been launched in Ontario and is in the process of being implemented across the rest of Canada.
- To create opportunities for seniors to be more connected, supported, and active members of their communities, we invested an additional $100 million over five years in the New Horizons for Seniors Program. This is helping community groups provide exercise classes, community kitchens, financial literacy classes, and other local programs, as well as making capital investments to improve the facilities that keep seniors engaged and healthy.
Support during the COVID-19 pandemic
- We responded swiftly when this crisis hit. In April, more than 4 million low and middle-income seniors received a GST Credit top-up—worth an average of $375 for single seniors and $510 for senior couples.
- To help seniors and others get essential services and supplies, such as the delivery of groceries, we invested half a billion dollars through partners like the United Way, food banks, and charities.
- Regardless of their pension benefits, seniors who became unemployed because of COVID-19 are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, worth $2,000 a month.
- We also reduced mandatory minimum withdrawals from RRIFs by 25 per cent for 2020 due to market volatility.
- In July, we provided a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for OAS and a further $200 for seniors eligible for the GIS.
- This will help 6.7 million seniors cover the increased costs caused by COVID-19. The 2.2 million seniors who received both OAS and GIS will get a total of $500 in tax-free support. Together with the GST Credit top-up, that’s over $1,500 for low-income senior couples.
- This is a $2.5 billion dollar investment in direct financial support to seniors—on top of the $1.3 billion GST Credit top-up for seniors.
- To ensure the most vulnerable seniors continue to get the benefits they depend on, we temporarily extended GIS and Allowances payments for seniors who couldn’t file their income information on-time.
- Revenue Canada launched new virtual tax clinics, with new flexibility to receive and authenticate documents, to assist vulnerable Canadians get their taxes done while staying safe.
- We invested an additional $20 million through the New Horizons for Seniors Program to invest in community projects that reduce isolation, improve seniors’ quality of life, and help them maintain a social support network.
- We created a new online portal, Wellness Together Canada (portal.gs), to connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists, and other professionals for confidential support, and make it easier to find credible mental health help.
- We also made public pensions fairer:
- We allowed couples who are forced to live apart for reasons beyond their control to receive Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits based on their individual incomes instead of their household incomes.
- To make sure seniors receive the benefits they paid for, we’re introducing proactive enrollment for Canada Pension Plan for those aged 70 and older.
- We took important steps to make insolvency proceedings fairer and more transparent, and made changes to federal corporate law to ensure better oversight of corporate behavior—including making company directors liable for excessive and unreasonable payments made to executives in the lead up to insolvency.
- We introduced the new Canada Caregiver Credit, which provides a tax reduction of up to $1,071 for expenses for the care of dependent relatives with infirmities and $335 for expenses for the care of spouses or children
- To improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with dementia, our government created Canada’s first National Dementia Strategy, backed by a $50 million investment. We invested a further $20 million to assist community organizations supporting seniors living with dementia and $31.6 million in research. These investments will enhance the quality of life for seniors living with dementia and ensure that their caregivers—who are predominantly women—have access to the resources they need, including mental health supports.
- We’re also helping break down barriers to make communities more inclusive for seniors and those living with disabilities. To support construction and renovations that make public spaces accessible, we invested $77 million in the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Furthermore, the new Accessible Canada Act will help provide more consistent accessibility across the country.
- Our government created a Seniors’ Minister to ensure seniors’ interests are always considered at the cabinet table.
- Seniors are disproportionately at risk of fraud, particularly as they are doing more online. To help keep Canadians safe from cybercrime, our government created the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security to provide trusted advice and the RCMP's National Cybercrime Coordination Unit to bolster investigations.
Throne Speech commitments
In the Speech from the Throne, the government is committed to:
- Increasing Old Age Security once a senior turns 75, and boosting the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit.
- Taking additional action to help people stay in their homes longer.
- Working with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible.
- Further targeting measures to help personal support workers.
- Developing Criminal Code amendments to explicitly penalize those who neglect seniors under their care, putting them in danger.
- Bringing forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:
- A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
- A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities; and
- A better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits.
- Accelerating steps to achieve a national, universal pharmacare program.
- Ensuring everyone – including in rural and remote areas – has access to a family doctor or primary care team.
- Expanding capacity to deliver virtual health care.
Taken together, our government’s ambitious measures are making a real difference in the lives of seniors—however there is more work to do. Canadian seniors can always count on Liberals to listen to their needs and work hard to deliver for them.