COVID-19: Support for Seniors

Insights
| 5/12/2020

Registered Retirement Income Funds

The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) have been reduced by 25% for 2020. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. 

One-Time Tax-Free Payments

An additional financial support of $2.5 billion will be provided to seniors in the form of a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). This measure would give a total of $500 to individuals who are eligible to receive both the OAS and the GIS, and will help them cover increased costs caused by COVID-19.

*Eligible seniors do not need to apply for this support, it will be distributed automatically by the Federal Government.

Temporarily Extending GIS and Allowance Payments

If seniors’ 2019 income information has not been assessed their GIS and Allowance payments will be temporarily extended. This will ensure that the most vulnerable seniors continue to receive their benefits when they need them the most. To avoid an interruption in benefits, seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information as soon as possible and no later than by October 1, 2020.

Supporting the Delivery of Items and Personal Outreach

The Federal Government is contributing $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals' needs and connect them to community supports.

Providing Essential Services

An additional investment of $20 million to the New Horizons for Seniors Program will support community-based organizations to provide immediate and essential services to seniors impacted by COVID-19. These activities can include:

  • supporting seniors in staying connected with their community and family by providing electronic devices, virtual activities and remote tutorials;
  • supporting the delivery of food and medication to self-isolated seniors at home;
  • assisting seniors to undertake essential activities, such as visits to the doctor;
  • assisting community organizations to provide the types of support above, including hiring staff to replace a loss of a senior volunteer due to the outbreak;
  • providing information to seniors regarding how to care for themselves during the pandemic.

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

Seniors whose income has been impacted by COVID-19 in the nature of losing their job, or needing to care for a dependent who has contracted COVID-19, are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB is a taxable benefit, providing $2,000 every four weeks, for up to 16 weeks to eligible workers, including seniors. Pension income does not affect eligibility to the CERB. The government also extended the eligibility of this benefit to individuals who earn up to $1,000 per month, as well as workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

Learn more on the CERB and how to apply here.

Goods and Services Tax Credit

The Federal Government is providing a one-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC), doubling the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year.

The average payment for those applicable individuals will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.

You do not need to apply for this benefit. If you are eligible you will automatically receive it.

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