News Release Article from  Employment and Social Development Canada

Archived - Government of Canada helping low-income seniors

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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO, July 9, 2008 - The Government of Canada is following through on its commitment to strengthen Canada's public pension system and ensure that low-income seniors keep more of their hard earned money.

Today, the Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Secretary of State (Seniors) met with local seniors and service providers and announced changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) that will allow for low-income seniors who work to earn more without having their GIS benefits reduced.

"Today's seniors are living longer and more active lives than ever before, and their participation in the labour market is growing," said the Honourable Marjory LeBreton. "This positive measure will benefit approximately 100,000 working, low-income seniors by putting money back into the pockets of those living on limited incomes."

"Our Government is committed to supporting low-income seniors and giving those seniors who choose to work the financial flexibility they desire in retirement," said Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North, Joe Comuzzi.

On July 1, 2008, an amendment to the Old Age Security Act came into effect increasing the GIS earnings exemption to $3,500 from $500. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500 or more, will now be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.

The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit, which is provided to all Canadians aged 65 and over who meet the residence requirements.

"On behalf of CARP's 350,000 members, I commend the Government of Canada for implementing this measure that will greatly benefit thousands of low-income seniors across Canada," said Susan Eng, Vice-President, Advocacy of CARP, Canada's Association for the 50-Plus. "Whether by choice or necessity, seniors are participating in the labour force in greater numbers than ever. This measure is a major step forward and CARP encourages this Government to continue to be proactive in providing seniors with increased security and flexibility in retirement."

Budget 2008 and other recent federal initiatives are also addressing the needs of Canada's seniors through the introduction of a series of important measures that include:

  • providing $13 million over three years to help seniors and others recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and to provide information on what support is available;
  • funding projects in hundreds of communities across Canada under the New Horizons for Seniors Program, helping seniors to bring their leadership, energy and skills to benefit our communities;
  • enabling 1.6 million low-income seniors to benefit from increased monthly benefits available under the GIS and to make a one-time application for GIS. As long as they file income tax returns every year, these seniors will never have to re-apply;
  • establishing the National Seniors Council to advise the Government on issues of importance to older Canadians;
  • providing more than $1 billion in tax relief each year to Canadian seniors through pensions income splitting and enhancements in the age and pension income credits; and
  • enabling seniors to build their retirement savings in Registered Pension Plans and Registered Retirement Savings Plans for an extra two years until age 71.

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This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.

For further information (media only):

James Maunder
Office of the Secretary of State (Seniors)
613-943-0756

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and Social Development
819-994-5559


Background Information

Increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement Earnings Exemption

On July 1, 2008, an amendment to the Old Age Security Act came into effect, to help Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients who choose to work to keep more of their GIS benefits.

What has changed?

This amendment increases the GIS earnings exemption to $3,500 from $500. A single pensioner earning $3,500 or more a year will be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.

Overview of the Old Age Security (OAS) program

The OAS program is funded through general tax revenues and provides a basic income for Canada's seniors. Benefits available through the OAS program include the basic OAS pension, the GIS, the Allowance, and the Allowance for the Survivor.

The OAS pension is available to all Canadians aged 65 and over who meet the residence requirements.

The GIS is a monthly benefit provided to low-income seniors who receive the OAS pension and who have little or no other income. The GIS was increased by $18 a month for single recipients and $29 a month for couples in January 2006, and again in January 2007. This represents a total increase of $36 and $58 respectively, or 7 per cent over two years.

The Allowance and the Allowance for the Survivor are monthly benefits for 60- to 64 year-old spouses or common-law partners of GIS recipients, or surviving spouses. The benefits are designed to lessen financial difficulties faced by couples living on a single pension, and by seniors whose spouse or common-law partner has died.

GIS and Allowance recipients have their supplement reduced by one dollar for every two dollars of income (other than the OAS pension). Before the Budget amendment, only 20 per cent of a recipient's earnings, to a maximum of $500, was exempt from the benefit reduction calculation. The new exemption enables GIS and Allowance recipients to earn up to $3,500 without having their GIS benefits reduced.

For more information on OAS benefits, please call 1-800-277-9914 or visit servicecanada.gc.ca./

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