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Blaney goes to bat for low-income seniors

NDP requests increase to Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for seniors

rachel blaney, mp, seniors
NDP Seniors critic Rachel Blaney (North Island – Powell River) called on the government to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for all seniors in the next federal budget. (Feb 15, 2023)

Wednesday February 15, 2023 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC (and NATIONAL)

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

An increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for Canadian low-income seniors was pitched today in the House of Commons by NDP Seniors Critic Rachel Blaney (MP for North Island – Powell River).

Earlier this month she proposed in Question Period that Old Age Security (OAS) payments be increased for seniors who are age 65 to 74, but today shifted to pushing for an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) in the upcoming federal Budget 2023.

rachel blaney
Rachel Blaney in Ottawa June 20, 2022.

The Liberal government increased OAS for seniors age 75+ (effective July 2022) but evidently presumes that seniors age 65 to 74 are still working.

That assumption has been longstanding for several years, without adequately encouraging the employment sector to provide more suitable opportunities for seniors in their 60s and early 70s to work.

Today’s shift:

Meanwhile the GIS specifically targets low-income seniors.

So today’s shift is from pushing for more OAS to insisting on a boost to the GIS amount so as “to lift all seniors out of poverty”.

The GIS assessment mechanism is more precise for low-income than for OAS which is delivered based only on age.

Blaney did not specify an amount for the increase but the OAS for seniors over age 75 was increased by 10%, so perhaps that’s the goal for GIS as well.

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Island Social Trends archive on Business and the Economy.

Success with GIS last year:

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Blaney and her colleague NDP Finance Critic Daniel Blaikie successfully led the charge for seniors to receive the GIS that had been clawed back from them if they had taken CERB. That benefited about 90,000 seniors across the country.

“No Canadian should live below the bar of dignity, especially when they retire,” said Blaney on February 1, arguing that the increased cost of living impacts all seniors equally. Today she articulated that “soaring food and housing costs are leaving many behind”.

Seniors Minister:

kamal khera, seniors minister
Federal Seniors Minister Kamal Khera in the House of Commons Feb 15, 2023.

“We have been there for (seniors) every step of the way since 2015,” said Seniors Minister Kamal Khera in response to Blaney’s question in the House of Commons today.

She itemized how the Liberals instated the retirement age as 65 (instead of 67 to where it was pushed by the previous Conservative government), by increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement that has helped over 900,000 seniors which has lifted 45,000 seniors out of poverty.

Khera also itemized how the federal government has enhanced the Canada Pension Plan and increasing the OAS for seniors age 75+ by 10%.


Budget 2023:

In this year’s federal budget the federal government can reasonably be expected to extend certain benefits from 2022 which are aimed at assisting with the high cost of living, housing affordability and the uncertain economic landscape.

Last week Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Budget 2023 will prioritize spending on health care and have a renewed focus on sustainability measures, including new green incentives.

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The federal government will be needing to find ways to balance the costs of extending existing benefits and introducing new ones. Feedback received in pre-budget consultations was open December 14 to February 10.

===== RELATED:

Cost of living efforts: BC Hydro bill credit & BC Affordability Credit (November 18, 2022)

Nuanced approach needed to help Canadians survive price-inflation onslaught (June 22, 2022)

Survivor pensions for marriage-after-60 veteran spouses (June 20, 2022)

GIS clawback still on NDP radar, want one-time emergency payment for impacted seniors) All GIS clawback articles from 2021 & 2022 are archived at the end of this January 21, 2022 article)

alistair macgregor, mp

Federal grind on low-income seniors & families continues in new year – Editorial on Guaranteed Livable Income (January 2, 2022)

Reflection on today’s cost of living: even $800K falls short (August 24, 2020)


Mary Brooke, editor, West Shore Voice News
Mary P Brooke, Editor and Publisher, Island Social Trends.

Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends as published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca.

She has been covering politics, business and communities through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island (previously as West Shore Voice News, and before that both Sooke Voice News and MapleLine Magazine).

Ms Brooke followed and wrote extensively about the GIS clawback issue in detail from the summer of 2021 through the course of the matter into 2022.