MP Scott Duvall column: Federal government must stand up for seniors during pandemic

Opinion Apr 24, 2020 by Scott Duvall Hamilton Mountain News

Canadian seniors are increasingly becoming the hidden casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are seniors at risk in long-term care facilities but many are suffering from the fear and anxiety of isolation and the worry of making ends meet. Add to that the hardship of increased costs for groceries and prescriptions as well as uncertainty about income benefit programs, and the short-term security for many Canadian seniors is at risk.

Leaving our seniors to fend for themselves during a pandemic is unacceptable and unnecessary. The assistance offered to date by the government doesn’t even come close to matching the need. Various concrete measures to provide real help to our seniors have been suggested by me and others. In numerous letters to government Ministers we have suggested such action as providing enhanced benefits directly to seniors through the existing OAS/GIS structure, a moratorium on the mandatory withdrawals this year from RIFFS and a mechanism for ensuring no seniors are cut off any benefit program that relies on the filing of a 2019 tax return.

Recipients of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) may be particularly vulnerable. Over 2 million Canadians receive benefits each year under the GIS program. The benefit is designed to help lift low income seniors out of poverty. Benefits for those eligible are determined each year, based on tax returns of the previous year and the new benefit cycle starts on July 1. While the government has extended the deadline to file taxes, there is widespread concern that many seniors will be unable to file on time because the agencies they depend on for assistance are closed to the public. Many seniors fear their GIS payments will be interrupted, and they will be cut off benefits staring in July.

Missing a cheque for even one month would be devastating for many seniors. For some, the GIS benefit can represent up to two thirds of their monthly income. For this to happen during a pandemic, when seniors are stressed and their expenses are higher, is unacceptable.

If you are a senior who needs help filing their taxes my office can assist you, even though we are closed to the public. I encourage you to call us at 905-574-3331 to make arrangements.

The government has introduced programs for workers, businesses and students, but so far have offered very little for Canadian seniors. It’s time for the government to step up to the plate and provide concrete and substantial assistance, before it’s too late. Anything less will result in undue hardship and suffering.

- Scott Duvall is MP for Hamilton Mountain

MP Scott Duvall column: Federal government must stand up for seniors during pandemic

We can't let seniors fend for themselves, writes Scott Duvall

Opinion Apr 24, 2020 by Scott Duvall Hamilton Mountain News

Canadian seniors are increasingly becoming the hidden casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are seniors at risk in long-term care facilities but many are suffering from the fear and anxiety of isolation and the worry of making ends meet. Add to that the hardship of increased costs for groceries and prescriptions as well as uncertainty about income benefit programs, and the short-term security for many Canadian seniors is at risk.

Leaving our seniors to fend for themselves during a pandemic is unacceptable and unnecessary. The assistance offered to date by the government doesn’t even come close to matching the need. Various concrete measures to provide real help to our seniors have been suggested by me and others. In numerous letters to government Ministers we have suggested such action as providing enhanced benefits directly to seniors through the existing OAS/GIS structure, a moratorium on the mandatory withdrawals this year from RIFFS and a mechanism for ensuring no seniors are cut off any benefit program that relies on the filing of a 2019 tax return.

Recipients of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) may be particularly vulnerable. Over 2 million Canadians receive benefits each year under the GIS program. The benefit is designed to help lift low income seniors out of poverty. Benefits for those eligible are determined each year, based on tax returns of the previous year and the new benefit cycle starts on July 1. While the government has extended the deadline to file taxes, there is widespread concern that many seniors will be unable to file on time because the agencies they depend on for assistance are closed to the public. Many seniors fear their GIS payments will be interrupted, and they will be cut off benefits staring in July.

Missing a cheque for even one month would be devastating for many seniors. For some, the GIS benefit can represent up to two thirds of their monthly income. For this to happen during a pandemic, when seniors are stressed and their expenses are higher, is unacceptable.

If you are a senior who needs help filing their taxes my office can assist you, even though we are closed to the public. I encourage you to call us at 905-574-3331 to make arrangements.

The government has introduced programs for workers, businesses and students, but so far have offered very little for Canadian seniors. It’s time for the government to step up to the plate and provide concrete and substantial assistance, before it’s too late. Anything less will result in undue hardship and suffering.

- Scott Duvall is MP for Hamilton Mountain

MP Scott Duvall column: Federal government must stand up for seniors during pandemic

We can't let seniors fend for themselves, writes Scott Duvall

Opinion Apr 24, 2020 by Scott Duvall Hamilton Mountain News

Canadian seniors are increasingly becoming the hidden casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are seniors at risk in long-term care facilities but many are suffering from the fear and anxiety of isolation and the worry of making ends meet. Add to that the hardship of increased costs for groceries and prescriptions as well as uncertainty about income benefit programs, and the short-term security for many Canadian seniors is at risk.

Leaving our seniors to fend for themselves during a pandemic is unacceptable and unnecessary. The assistance offered to date by the government doesn’t even come close to matching the need. Various concrete measures to provide real help to our seniors have been suggested by me and others. In numerous letters to government Ministers we have suggested such action as providing enhanced benefits directly to seniors through the existing OAS/GIS structure, a moratorium on the mandatory withdrawals this year from RIFFS and a mechanism for ensuring no seniors are cut off any benefit program that relies on the filing of a 2019 tax return.

Recipients of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) may be particularly vulnerable. Over 2 million Canadians receive benefits each year under the GIS program. The benefit is designed to help lift low income seniors out of poverty. Benefits for those eligible are determined each year, based on tax returns of the previous year and the new benefit cycle starts on July 1. While the government has extended the deadline to file taxes, there is widespread concern that many seniors will be unable to file on time because the agencies they depend on for assistance are closed to the public. Many seniors fear their GIS payments will be interrupted, and they will be cut off benefits staring in July.

Missing a cheque for even one month would be devastating for many seniors. For some, the GIS benefit can represent up to two thirds of their monthly income. For this to happen during a pandemic, when seniors are stressed and their expenses are higher, is unacceptable.

If you are a senior who needs help filing their taxes my office can assist you, even though we are closed to the public. I encourage you to call us at 905-574-3331 to make arrangements.

The government has introduced programs for workers, businesses and students, but so far have offered very little for Canadian seniors. It’s time for the government to step up to the plate and provide concrete and substantial assistance, before it’s too late. Anything less will result in undue hardship and suffering.

- Scott Duvall is MP for Hamilton Mountain