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Island MLA criticizes feds for five-month wait for seniors’ one-time GIS payment

Previously announced funding coming at the beginning of fiscal year
The one-time payment to correct the GIS cutbacks is coming, but not for five months. (File photo)

Seniors waiting for recently announced GIS top up money are going to have to wait a bit longer.

The recently announced $742 million in funding prompted a slough of questions from NDP MPs, one of which was about when people would start to see the money.

“I was happy to see that there’s money that has been announced, but devastated to see that that amount of money is actually not going to start rolling out until the next fiscal year, which means at this point the soonest time that a senior is going to get any payment is in May,” said North Island - Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.

RELATED: More questions than answers in new GIS announcement — MPs

The funding, which was announced earlier in December, was for $742 million that would go to over 200,000 seniors in Canada to help cover GIS clawbacks that were made when those seniors applied for recovery benefits.

Blaney spoke to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland about the funding.

“I told her very clearly that I was concerned that this was not going to get to seniors quickly enough and that we were in a place in this country where we were really risking the well-being of many seniors,” Blaney said. “She promised me that she would make it right, and definitely by the financial statement that I saw asking seniors to wait five more months is not going to work. I’m very worried about that and we’ll continue to fight on that for sure.”

The NDP are also calling on the government to reinstate pandemic supports for workers, particularly as the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. New public health orders in Quebec have already affected workers, and according to a NDP press release “the Liberal government’s plan to provide aid to Canadians doesn’t cover people affected by partial lockdowns.”

“Canadians are tired of the pandemic—we’re all tired. But Justin Trudeau can’t just decide he’s finished providing pandemic supports to people when provinces are recording thousands of new cases per day,” said NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie. “We pushed back against the government’s inadequate proposal for pandemic supports because we knew it would leave too many people behind and that’s exactly what is happening right now.

“This government has got to help those workers whose hours have been drastically reduced. They have to help the self-employed people who have no idea how they’re going to keep paying their bills.”

New Democrats are urging the Liberal government to reinstate pandemic supports for workers and small businesses and to make meaningful changes to the Employment Insurance program for Canadians.

RELATED: Time running out to fix GIS cut before holidays

NDP Critics concerned about seniors losing Guaranteed Income Supplement

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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