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431-00269 (Social affairs and equality)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:

Assisting our poorest seniors in Canada should be a priority for all of us;

The quality of life for seniors could be improved by recognizing the importance of increasing the Old Age Supplement.

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada call upon Canada's Members of Parliament to increase Canada's OAS program to insure that those that need it the most are getting more.

Response by the Minister of Seniors

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable SCHULTE

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is the first pillar of Canada’s retirement income system. The benefits under the OAS program include the OAS pension, which is paid to all persons aged 65 or over who meet the residence requirements, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors, and the Allowances for low-income Canadians aged 60 to 64 who are the spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or who are widows or widowers.

To ensure that they retain their value over time, OAS benefits are reviewed four times per year (in January, April, July and October) in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI measures the price of a typical “basket” of goods and services, such as food, shelter, gas and clothing, commonly purchased by Canadian households. The quarterly indexation provides benefit increases to recipients when prices go up. In addition, the Old Age Security Act contains a guarantee ensuring that benefits can never go down, even in the event of a decline in the CPI.

The Government of Canada remains committed to improving the income security of seniors and continues to seek ways to strengthen the OAS program, as demonstrated by a broad range of measures taken since 2015:

  • Budget 2016 restored the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the GIS to 65, putting thousands of dollars back in the pockets of future Canadian seniors and preventing an estimated 100,000 future 65 and 66 year olds from falling into poverty.
  • In July 2016, the GIS was increased by up to $947 per year for the lowest-income single seniors, benefiting close to 900,000 vulnerable seniors across Canada, and lifting an estimated 57,000 seniors out of poverty.
  • In December 2017, the Government launched automatic enrolment to the GIS. Seniors who are automatically enrolled for the OAS pension are now automatically enrolled for the GIS without ever having to complete an application.
  • Budget 2019 enhanced the GIS earnings exemption to further support low-income seniors who wish to work. Starting in July 2020, the earnings exemption will increase from $3,500 of annual earnings to $5,000, and eligibility will be extended to self-employment income. The enhancement will also provide an additional 50 percent exemption on employment or self-employment income between $5,000 and $15,000. This measure will allow working low-income seniors to keep more of their employment or self-employment income before their GIS benefit is reduced.
  • We reached a historic agreement with provinces in 2016 to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan and meaningfully reduce the risk of not saving enough for retirement. It enhanced the Canada Pension Plan’s maximum yearly benefit for future retirees to nearly $20,000, an increase of 50 per cent. Increased CPP contributions are being slowly phased in over a seven-year period that began in 2019, and it will take roughly 40 years of contributions for a worker to fully accumulate the enhanced benefit.
  • Increased the Basic Personal Amount (BPA) to keep even more money in the pockets of seniors and other Canadians, helping make life more affordable. The BPA is the amount of money Canadians can earn before they have to pay federal income tax. The increase that came into effect on January 1, 2020 is the first step in the Government's proposal to increase the BPA to $15,000 by 2023.  Once fully phased in, single individuals would save close to $300 in taxes every year, and families would save nearly $600 annually. 

More recently, the Government committed to increase the OAS pension by 10 per cent for seniors aged 75 years and older.

The Government has also introduced several new measures to protect seniors’ financial security during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these measures, the Government is providing about $900 more for low-income single seniors and more than $1,500 for low-income senior couples, on top of their existing benefits, to help these vulnerable Canadians with extra costs during the pandemic.

The Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan invested $1.3 billion in a one-time special payment through the GST credit in April 2020. More than 4 million low- and middle-income seniors benefited from this top-up, which provided an average of $375 for low- and modest-income singles seniors and an average of $510 for low- and modest-income senior couples. Eligible individuals, including seniors, did not have to apply for this benefit.

The Government introduced a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the OAS pension, with an additional tax-free payment of $200 for seniors eligible for the GIS. This measure will provide a total of $500 to low-income seniors who receive both the OAS pension and the GIS. Allowance recipients will also receive $500. This $2.5 billion investment in financial support will help Canadian seniors cover increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This payment was issued during the week of July 6, 2020. Individuals who are eligible to receive the OAS pension or the GIS in June 2020 are eligible for this payment and did not need to apply to receive the one-time payment for seniors. The one-time payment was paid to their bank account if they are enrolled for direct deposit. Those who are not enrolled for direct deposit received a cheque.

To help protect seniors’ investment assets during a volatile market, the Government reduced the minimum withdrawals required from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 per cent for 2020.

The deadline for filing 2019 taxes was June 1, 2020. The Government has put additional measures in place to ensure that GIS payments will continue without interruption even if a person's 2019 income information has not been received. This will guarantee that the most vulnerable seniors will continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. Seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than October 1, 2020. Further, the Canada Revenue Agency is working with volunteer organizations across Canada to help seniors with low and modest incomes complete and file their tax returns so they can continue to access benefits and credits to which they are entitled.

Presented to the House of Commons
Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North)
June 16, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00269)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Kevin Lamoureux
Winnipeg North
Liberal Caucus
Manitoba

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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