On May 12, 2020 Federal Seniors Minister Deb Schulte announced additional financial supports for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new measures include one-time tax-free payments of $300 and $200 for those who qualify for OAS and GIS, respectively. The government is also investing an additional $20 million in the New Horizons for Seniors program, which provides funding for community programs that help to reduce isolation in older adults.
While CARP welcomes these measures, we urge the government to do more to support the retirement security crisis caused by COVID-19.
“The supports announced today for seniors are welcome, but do not directly address many of the concerns we’ve relayed to government from CARP members on retirement security and access to liquidity,” advises CARP’s Chief Policy Officer, Marissa Lennox. “Seniors are looking to have as many tools as possible to maximize their cash flow and protect their retirement.”
Lennox adds that “a one-time payment of up to $500 for qualifying recipients is welcome, but not a solution for beyond the short term. Seniors have been impacted by an increase in the cost of living. Many low-income seniors depend on a variety of community support services, including food banks and volunteer tax preparation programs, many of which have closed their doors due to the virus. It’s unclear how long this will last.”
CARP has made several demands of government to provide meaningful and immediate relief to seniors during COVID-19:
- Waive mandatory RRIF withdrawals in 2020
- For 2020 tax year, eliminate withholding tax on RRSP withdrawals and allow two years to repay tax owing
- Follow through with pre-election commitment to increase OAS and CPP
These measures would show a marked commitment from government to meet the needs of Canadian seniors.
CARP will continue to push forward its asks, amplifying the voices of more than 320,000 members.