The federal government is pledging $2.5 billion to help seniors struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a news release issued by the prime minister’s office Tuesday (May 12), the government said the money would break down into a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for Old Age Security, with an additional $200 for those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. According to Ottawa, there are 7.6 million seniors eligible for the OAS payment and 2.2 million eligible for the GIS one.
“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has been taking its toll on seniors both emotionally and financially,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at during his daily address at Rideau Cottage.
He talked about seniors in longterm care homes who have born the brunt of the pandemic. Data released by the Public Health Agency of Canada at the end of April found that 95 per cent of deaths are in people aged 60 or older, while 79 per cent of deaths are linked to longterm care homes.
“There are serious underlying challenges facing these facilities,” he said.
Ottawa said it will spend $20 million to top up the New Horizons for Seniors Program to support organizations that offer community-based projects to reduced isolation, help seniors to maintain a social support network and improve quality of life.
Tuesday’s announcement comes on top of a GST payment of $375 for single seniors and $510 for senior couples announced earlier this spring.