Home Sections Seniors NDP requests immediate government action to reverse GIS clawback

NDP requests immediate government action to reverse GIS clawback

Changes to GIS could be done by Cabinet Order, ahead of House of Commons starting again Nov 22.

Wednesday November 3, 2021 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [See comments & feedback from the Minister of Seniors, Kamal Khera, on November 8, 2021 ]

Editor’s notes:

  • On November 2, 2021 the NDP has taken a next-step to pushing the federal government to reinstate the GIS payments that have been clawed back from seniors who took CERB and CRB. [scroll down to see Letter from NDP to federal government]
  • GIS is the Guaranteed Income Supplement paid to seniors who are income-challenged.
  • CERB is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as available in 2020.
  • CRB is the Canada Recovery Benefit for self-employed and non-EI recipients. | Locally, Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) told Island Social Trends just before the election that he is “surprised that no one in the government could see this was going to be an issue”. On October 21, CRB was cancelled by the Liberal Government effective October 23, 2021.
  • The clawback can be reversed by an Order in Cabinet, or by legislation.
  • The new federal Cabinet was announced October 26, 2021 and the House of Commons will resume November 22, 2021.
  • Letters from readers who have lost their GIS.

Seniors across the country were shocked this summer to learn that benefits they rely on such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) have been cut because they received pandemic supports like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Most seniors were aware the CERB (later CRB) was taxable income, but were not in any way directly advised that the guaranteed support through the GIS program would be clawed back as a result of receiving emergency support payments like CERB during the worst of the pandemic economic impacts.

Justin Trudeau, Doug Kobayashi
During the 2021 federal election campaign Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau justified the top-up to seniors age 75+ by saying most seniors 65 to 74 were still working. [Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, August 19, 2021 in Victoria.]

The word ‘guaranteed’ is right in the name of the long-standing federal government support program. To almost everyone, that indicated certainty in receiving the payments (which for low-income seniors are a top-up to the Old Age Security or OAS payments that all seniors receive).

Seniors age 75 years and older were eligible for a one-time top-up of $500 starting August 2021. During the election campaign Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau essentially summarized that to his belief people age 65 to 74 were mostly still working. Ask any senior age 65+ if they planned to still be working in their senior years, and now being presumed to be working — and this indicates a huge economic shortfall for seniors that the federal government is taking advantage of.

senior, opening envelope
Many seniors learned by letter on short notice about losing their GIS payments.

NDP fighting for restoration of GIS:

The federal NDP MPs are calling on the Liberal government to fix what they call a “devastating situation that has left many seniors worried they won’t be able to afford their rent, food and medication”.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh repeatedly brought up the GIS clawback issue during the summer/fall 2021 election campaign. None of the other parties mentioned it.

First steps ahead of 44th parliament:

Rachel Blaney, MP (North Island—Powell River), is the NDP Seniors Critic

The federal Cabinet was announced on October 26, and NDP critics announced last week. But the 44th Parliament does not get started in the House of Commons until November 22.

Apparently the GIS clawback could be reversed by an Order in Cabinet ahead of Parliament sitting, or by legislation after parliament convenes.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the NDP’s Critic for Seniors, Rachel Blaney and the Critic for Employment and Workforce Development, Daniel Blaikie, sent a letter (see image & link below) to Ministers Khera, Lebouthillier and Qualtrough asking for immediate action to address this crisis facing so many seniors.

In their November 2 letter, Blaney and Blaikie articulate that seniors were not told that accepting emergency benefits would disentitle them to their regular income supports the following year.

“In addition to the sudden reduction in their GIS benefit amount, they are now being denied other services and supports from various levels of government that tie their eligibility to the GIS,” they wrote.

In BC, the seniors rental rebate program (SAFER) could be one of those income-tested support programs that might (as a result of the CERB income) might reduce supports to seniors who’ve been relying on the program for helping to cover the cost of high rent in the private rental market.

Liberals are abandoning seniors:  

“Seniors have had to endure a lot during this pandemic, whether it’s been poor living conditions in long-term care homes or being more vulnerable to COVID-19. Now, some of Canada’s most vulnerable low-income seniors have lost the GIS help they relied on simply for following the government’s advice,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

lisa marie barron
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was the only federal party leader who addressed the GIS clawback issue during the Fall 2021 election campaign.

“The Liberal government can’t abandon our seniors like this. We’re urging Justin Trudeau to act immediately and ensure Canadian seniors have the help they need,” said Singh in a news release today.

Back in August (just ahead of the election call), NDP MPs sent a letter to the Liberal government asking them to find an urgent solution to fix the problem they have created for seniors. Instead of taking action to help low-income seniors and support Canadians through a pandemic, the Prime Minister chose to call an early election.

Slow to offer support, quick to take it back:

Daniel Blaikie
NDP Employment and Workforce Development Critic Daniel Blaikie, MP (Elmwood—Transcona)

“Was it not enough for Liberals to drag their heels getting financial support to seniors in the early days of the pandemic? Now they’re trying to claw back some of the support that actually made it to seniors in need,” said NDP Critic for Employment and Workforce Development Daniel Blaikie, who is the MP for Elmwood-Transcona in Manitoba.

“While the Liberals rush to give money to the richest corporations without any strings attached, they are nickel-and-diming seniors. It’s just not good enough,” said Blaikie in a news release today.

“We have heard from many seniors across the country who were shocked to learn they would be losing the benefits they rely on to get by. Canadian seniors deserve much better than the treatment they have gotten from the Liberal government, ” said NDP Critic for Seniors Rachel Blaney, who is the MP for North Island—Powell River, here on Vancouver Island.

“We are ready to work with the government to find an immediate fix to the so we can help the seniors they have turned their backs on,” said Blaney in a news release today.

oaktree naturals
Ask for the seniors discount at OakTree Naturals in Langford, BC
GIS, letter, ndp
Letter from NDP to federal ministers requesting reversal of GIS clawback, November 2, 2021.

Comments welcome from seniors:

Letters to the editor may be submitted to letters@islandsocialtrends.com

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Check out the new Monk Office website.

===== RELATED:

seniors, finance
Some seniors who collected CERB are now losing their Guaranteed Income Supplement.

LETTER: senior who still needs temp work lost GIS (November 3, 2021)

LETTER: senior faces potential eviction due to GIS clawback (October 27, 2021)

LETTER: GIS clawback continues after election (October 19, 2021)

LETTER: GIS clawback means food vs rent (September 19, 2021)

NDP candidate mojo: we fight for you (September 19, 2021)

LETTER: GIS clawback means no bus pass (September 13, 2021)

LETTER: Hurting seniors with GIS clawback (September 5, 2021)

LETTER: Retired & depending on GIS (August 19, 2021)

LETTER: Suddenly losing Guaranteed Income Supplement by receiving CERB (August 10, 2021)

LETTER: Seniors suddenly losing Guaranteed Income Supplement if they took CERB (August 7, 2021)

Seniors who took CERB now losing GIS supplement & other benefits (August 4, 2021)

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